Only By The Night Review

artist: kings of leon date: 08/30/2011 category: compact discs
kings of leon: Only By The Night
Released: Sep 19, 2008
Genre: Alternative Rock, Southern Rock, Garage Rock
Label: RCA
Number Of Tracks: 11
Recording began in February 2008, and was finalized in Nashville's Blackbird Studios.
 Sound: 7.7
 Lyrics: 8.3
 Overall Impression: 8.2
 Overall rating:
 8.4 
 Reviewer rating:
 8.1 
 Users rating:
 8.6 
 Votes:
 100 
reviews (6) 50 comments vote for this album:
overall: 10
Only By The Night Reviewed by: thenirve, on september 29, 2008
2 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: The sound of course is a huge expansion from where they were in because of the times. They went from that raw, twanggy sounding guitar and super raspy voice, to a more organized guitar and much finer vocal line. I think the overall new sound is great. It turned them into this whole new revoltion of a band. There is still a presence of the old Kings in there. It seemed as though they Caleb turned to more ballad types of songs which completely works. The choruses and breakdowns are spectacular on Only By The Night. The opener Closer is just a wonderous explosion into the new sound of KOL. Crawl has a more Zeppelin-esque crunch to it with the raw guitar sound, and a great touch with the distorted bass. One of my favorite new sounds from the new album is the use of background vocals. The very distant use like in Use Somebody. Also, In Cold Desert, Notion, Manhattan, Revelry all have that super drowned out reverbed guitar, a brilliant touch and also shadows the older sound from Because of the times. // 10

Lyrics: The lyrics are brilliant. Caleb has definitely grown up on this album. He sings the shit out of this album. He may not have used his usual screech as much but he absolutely shows his skills both verbally and vocally. The huge amount of pain that is carried across from vocals to ears is huge on many of the songs. Closer is one that screams to the listener: "She took my heart, I think she took my soul. With the moon I run. Far from the carnage of the fiery sun." Use Somebody is a song that you can feel. You almost feel alone when you listen to this song. The way he says the verse with just guitar. "I've been roamin' around, I was lookin' down at all I see." Brilliant piece of music. There is 17, which is the lowest point on the album. rehashing his old number of 17. The majority of the songs, it seems, are about being alone or lonely. Which works perfectly with the album, because of the overall vibe it gives you when you listen. I know I felt it. // 10

Overall Impression: The Song arrangement is amazing: 01. Closer: absolutely amazing. Starts off with that erie cry of a guitar and then Caleb busts into it with that raspy voice that just works. 20/10 02. Crawl: Jared really shows off his skills and diversity with the distorted bass riff. The solo in this song is impressive as well, I think this was the song that they choose to show off their skills with. 10/10 03. Sex On Fire: just amazing. Caleb is Phenominal on this song. 20/10 04. Use Somebody: another great track with Caleb just tearing it up. Great reverberated background vocals as well. 20/10 05. Manhattan: rolls along. great track. lyrics are awesome. and the guitars are singing in your ears. 20/10 06. Revelry: awesome track. Starts out a little like Peter Gabriel. Really catchy chorus. a tiny bit too repetitive. 8/10 07. 17: just a poorly introed song. it starts off confusing with bells? It becomes an alright song if the bells would go away. Not awful. Just during the "Oh she's only 17" part. 6/10 08. Notion: great far off guitar in the begining to get you interested. Wonderful vocal line by Caleb. Great chorus. This just has everything. Only thing that bothers me is the crappy solo that sounds like an octave pedal. Much like The Police's So Lonely. It almost makes that part of the song unbearable. Thank God it's only for ten seconds in this song. 11/10 09. I Want You: starts off a little slow. Nice Cowbell and Tambourine Combination. Not a bad track. A Story more or less, not to be cluttered with too much. 7/10 10. Be Somebody: awesome riff once again. Great touch by Matthew with the distant guitar. Very catchy lyrics: "I loosen my tie". Great Track. 9/10 11. Cold Desert: amazing track! They couldn't have picked a better ending song. It almost makes you sad to say it is over. The creepy guitars are f--king amazing! This song is f--king great. One of those will go unheard because of it's peculiarity. I love it. 20/10 This album is by no means at all a disappointment. I think it is the best album to come out since Radiohead's Kid A in 2001. it is Phenominal. The only song I wish had not been on this album is 17. It is a new great sound for Kings Of Leon. // 10

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overall: 8
Only By The Night Reviewed by: unregistered, on september 22, 2008
1 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: From the outset - the effect-heavy Closer, with it's expansive, creepy atmosphere - it is clear that Kings of Leon have moved on. Long gone are the days of Youth and Young Manhood, the raw Southern rock album released when the youngest of the band (bassist Jared) was just fifteen. Their evolution has been clear ever since: with both subsequent albums, they became more polished, growing further from their Pentecostal origins. If Closer is the result, then they have stretched their wings further than most thought possible. The three brothers and a cousin, who grew up with the obligatory Southern back story - their father was a preacher, their childhoods spent moving from town to town - have been nothing in their career thus far if not honest. Whether it was the drug-fuelled whine of Soft or the grubby Spiral Staircase, they have never attempted to dress up their less glamorous attributes in anything other than skinny jeans. A promotion strategy for this album involves a new Home Video appearing on their website showing the band and crew at home and in the studio, every day in September prior to the release date. This under-publicised move exposes the not inconsiderable egos at work behind the album: lead singer and lyricist Caleb in particular appears fragile and belligerent, sensitive and self-aware. They have always been served best by this prickly honesty, their willingness to appear unchanged and unvarnished in front of their fans; this stadium-rock album, then, is most at risk of losing that vital authenticity and slipping too far into U2 territory. Crawl does not restore faith at that level. The lyrics even become political at one point, though only in the vaguest possible sense: The reds, the whites and abused/The crucified USA. While the band - particularly Jared - have been laudably vocal in their support for the Democratic party and for young people voting in general, these lines are neither inspiring nor particularly coherent. It is up to the next track, the cringingly-titled number one single Sex on Fire, to bring Kings of Leon back onto more familiar territory, which they predictably and satisfyingly stomp all over. // 7

Lyrics: Caleb's best lyrics thus far have been the low-key expressions of solitude and uncertainty from KoL's latest two albums, Aha Shake Heartbreak and Because of the Times. Use Somebody forms a highlight of the album for the same reason. While the heart of the track lies in its understated lyrics and exquisitely tortured performance from Caleb, the quality of the sound cannot possibly be ignored, from its sweeping backing vocals and symphonic guitar to its powerfully musical bass line and technically stunning drum fills. It is difficult to dislike even the less striking tracks here: Manhattan becomes more charming at each listen, with its basic but endearing lyrics: We're gonna show this town how to kiss these stars. Again the musicianship is obvious in the warm, melodic rhythm section. Revelry wallows in reverberating, melancholic self-pity, again revealing slices of the confused and unhappy anti-hero: It was me that drove us right in the ground, Caleb moans. 17 sees us back onto another familiar subject. Oh, she's only seventeen, it begins, and give it a guess where it goes from there. It suffers in comparison to the other Kings of Leon song which features a seventeen-year-old love interest, Slow Night So Long; it is less contemplative, more prosaic and less greasy. Where Slow Night So Long is jammed full of disgust, self-loathing and crippling loneliness, 17 comes across comparatively smug. Notion is a vocal and musical strut, but lyrically devoid of anything new. It must be said that on the less interesting songs, drummer Nathan seems to work twice as hard: Be Somebody features a ferociously engaging rhythm section, as well as swampy guitar work from lead guitarist and cousin-rather-than-brother Matthew. // 9

Overall Impression: I Want You is the most obviously rhythmic track, a laidback and quirkily observant ode to nights out and small towns. I will here note that Kings of Leon have come a long way from their earlier everything's the same, this town is pitiful/and I'll be getting out as soon as I can fly attitude: we must assume that small towns are much easier to admire from a Japanese hotel room than they are from an actual small town. The fickle freshman, probably thinks he's cooler than you, the lyrics go, trailing into descriptions of the land of the creeps and home-made fratboy pornography. What this has to do with the I want you chorus line is never made clear, but it is funkier and fresher than a lot of the material on the album. Cold Desert is the album closer, a song written - Caleb claims - while under the influence of pain medication following a fight with Nathan. Cold Desert has none of the musical energy of the similar Day Old Blues or The Runner from previous albums, and at first seems bloated in comparison; in fact, this lyrically devastating, intensely personal, and achingly miserable hymn of desolation numbers among Kings of Leon's most powerful tracks. Jesus don't love me, Caleb howls into the emptiness, No one ever carried my load. I'm too young to feel this old. For me, this does not equal 2005's Aha Shake Heartbreak either track-for-track or cohesively, but this does not make it a bad record. It has substituted much of it's raw teenaged energy for musical skill and lyrical exploration; it is a big, sprawling epic of an album, and I imagine it is just precisely the one that Kings of Leon intended to make. // 8

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overall: 6
Only By The Night Reviewed by: wouldyakindly, on april 15, 2009
1 of 2 people found this review helpful

Sound: Let me start by saying that I love the Kings Of Leon, but I am a relatively recent fan, having only discovered them around early 2008. Even so, I've listened to their entire discography and I can conclusively say this is without a doubt their worst album. Of course it's not a bad album, in fact, I'm sure on it's own it seems quite good, but compared to any of their earlier records it really falls short. The sound is noticeably stadium sized, continuing from a trend started on 3rd album because of the times. But where that album was soulful, varied and original, this album is disappointingly stale, simply throwing out one lukewarm stadium filler after another. Songs like revelry and 17 float by pretty meaninglessly and even the albums high points (crawl, cold desert, closer) are no more than moderately good. This fact is not helped by the fact that both singles have, at time of writing, been played consistently on radio and TV for 6 solid months. Overall, the Kings of Leon's sound has become bleak and a bit dull, the fast and slow songs are gone, replaced by a constant mid tempo dirge. Calebs vocals have lost their edge and the "post punk" guitar noises simply don't suit them at all. True, the rhythm section is generally interesting and driving, but that's something to be expected from a good band, rather than praised. // 5

Lyrics: Funnily enough, lyrics are the one area which the album does relatively well at. The fact that the album was mostly written under the influence of painkillers is evident in the style of many of the songs and as a result the lyrics are often quite dreamy and vague. This is no bad thing, they contain some nice imagery and suit the songs well. Calebs voice has also adopted an interesting variation on the crazed yodel/hard rock growl of past albums, singing soulfully with genuine clarity. However, with this he also manages to lose a lot of the anger and energy that drove their earlier work, which just makes the album seem commercial and generally lacking in heart. // 7

Overall Impression: Overall, Only By The Night is a disappointment. It's probably worth buying for the 4 or 5 tracks on it which are genuinely good, but doesn't stand up to expectations and worst of all, only gets more disappointing with time. I will concede that I'm not a fan of stadium rock and perhaps this album is just not right for me. But when you consider that this doesn't even come close to the equally stadium sized Because of the Times, it seems that the Kings of Leon are worse than intalented, they are lazy. For that reason alone, I cannot recommend this album to anyone who doesn't already possess the other 3 kings of leon albums (which are brilliant). // 6

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overall: 9.3
Only By The Night Reviewed by: Stugg334, on june 11, 2009
1 of 1 people found this review helpful

Sound: Thick southern rock, bit more indie than before but way more to my preference, much more melodic and catchy than previous albums. I'd heard singles USe Somebody and Sex On Fire before I got the album, and I love them, but there are tons of other good songs that haven't made the charts. Revelry is a great tune, mostly keyboards but really nice lyrics. Manhattan is a really good example of simple guitar playing that works with song, about inviting people to party regardless of who they are. Notion is maybe my favourite, its a brilliant song, catchy but not poppy. Finally Be Somebody is another grea song, Drop D tuning so a bit fatter. Crawl is good if you're a U2 fan. Just great southern indieish rock, sometimes a teensy bit murky if I'm desperatley trying to find something bad to say. // 9

Lyrics: Caleb has an incredible voice, really smoky, that matches the songs exactly. The lyrics are actually thought about, not just based on what rhymes. Real passion, not a bad line on the album. Revelry, Use Somebody, and Manhattan have the best lyrics in my opinion, lyrics that make it clear the song has a topic, often quite a dark topic, and they are finally a band with something to say. I like the old stuff, but this is a utterly fresh sound that beats it hands down. // 9

Overall Impression: Best album I've bought this year, by a mile. In my opinion better than Because of the Times, but i only heard of the Kings when Sex On Fire came out, and I listened to BOTT after that. Fans thatt have known for longer may not like the new direction, more commercial maybe, but in my opinion just better songs, and its stupid when people don't like new stuff because its catchier. 10/10 because there are so many good songs on there. // 10

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overall: 7
Only By The Night Reviewed by: UG Team, on october 03, 2008
0 of 3 people found this review helpful

Sound: Kings Of Leon has an intangible quality that makes their songs very pleasing and yet very common sounding. There is nothing sonically spectacular or ear-popping impressive about KOL's music, but their songs have mass appeal which keeps people gravitating to their albums. The Tennessean quartet of brothers Caleb Followill on lead vocals/rhythm guitar, Jared Followill on bass, Nathan Followill on drums, and their cousin Matthew Followill on lead guitar, have released their fourth studio album Only By The Night. As much as the band talks about making each album different, some things about them will never change. For instance, Caleb's voice still has a rusty yowling pitch relatable to Peter Frampton which he will never shake off and that is just fine, because his voice is perfectly fitted to the band's slow burning rock fuses wired with Southern country blues esthetics and smoky heartland rock pastorals reminiscent of The Marshall Tucker Band. Kings Of Leon have a tendency to make songs that people can sing along to while on their way to work or simply involved in the daily activities of life. The music is common, and yet there is something very special about the songs. The band's lyricist Caleb Followill explains on the band's website that the track Use Somebody, deals with feeling lonely on the road as he expresses, It's about being far from home. The track revitalizes vintage rock seedlings liken to Bob Seger and Joe Walsh and makes good use of the band's rhythm section who have a proclivity to create slow throbbing rhythmic swells. Many tracks are garbed in wall to wall heartland rock stylized cables which rig songs like Closer, Crawl and Revelry as Caleb's raw vocal textures are barricaded in smooth melodically furnaced harmonies. The upbeat rhythmic strokes of Manhattan are grated by sleek vibrating guitar effects that soar and recede in alternating phases as transfusions of Southern-waxed bluesy tones are shot into the melody. Beams of vintage rock flames are freckled with harsh tugging drum strikes and exasperating guitar twists venting out steamy emotions in the tune Somebody. The smoky vapors and cool rock strut of I Want You" is reminiscent of Nick Gilder's infectious 1978 hit song Hot Child In The City, and the band's slow whipping flusters cloaking Sex On Fire swarm loosely around Caleb's vocals like a ring of moss growing at the base of a tree bark. There is a regenerative quality about Kings Of Leon's music that makes it earthy and keeps their well of songs always filled to the brim. // 7

Lyrics: Caleb's lyrics are very personal, and yet, they have a broad appeal which is able to tell the story of so many people's lives. The band's song Manhattan is about combating loneliness by inviting all lonely souls to join in the festivities, No matter who you are / So you dance all night / And dance all day / I say, I say / We're gonna feel the fire / We're gonna stoke it up/ We're gonna sip this wine / And pass the cup / Who needs avenues / Who needs reservoirs / We're gonna show this town / How to kiss the stars. Caleb's words often deal with feeling lonely even though on stage on through the songwriting process, he is surrounded by family. Like many regular people, Caleb Followill has something inside of him that makes him feel isolated and eager to get out of his system, and his journey is documented in KOL's songs. Each album is another page that takes a deeper look inside of Caleb Followill. // 7

Overall Impression: Kings Of Leon have Southern rock tastes with soft bluesy textured sound bytes. Their new album Only By The Night shows aspects of nostalgia and elements of soft pop, melodic rock, and country-folk. Though their music shows remnants of classic rock, their songs are all their own, made from their own handcrafted gaskets, briquettes, and geysers. For the recording of Only By The Night, Kings Of Leon returned to Nashville's Blackbird studios with their long-time producer Angelo Petraglia and Nashville-based producer/engineer Jacquire King at the helm. The band makes the best of what they have and they don't seem to desire anything outside of it. They seem pleasantly content with the music that they make, and they don't forage through other band's garages or experiment beyond what classic rock has equipped them with and inspires in them. They make classic rock a contemporary music form, which adds pages to it's own historical logs. // 7


- Susan Frances aka sweetpeasuzie (c) 2008

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overall: 8
Only By The Night Reviewed by: Battman1993, on august 30, 2011
0 of 0 people found this review helpful

Sound: Ah yes. This is the album that broke Kings Of Leon into the mainstream music world. Yes, on "Only By The Night", KOL cleaned up their sound and added pop elements. However, the new formula also shows the Followills' gift for songwriting. You still have some of the southern rock ("Crawl"), but you also have massive arena-filling anthems not unlike those U2 used to write. Everyone I'm sure has heard "Sex On Fire" and "Use Somebody", but there are other gems on here. Notion (another hit single), features a driving guitar section during the chorus, and "Be Somebody" (my favorite song on the album) has a great crescendo effect. The first half of the song is soft with a driving beat, then out of nowhere it explodes into a rock song. Great all around. // 8

Lyrics: Considering most pop songs are about sex & love, the lyrical content on "OBTN" isn't suprising. However, KOL still manage to throw their own touch in there. Lyrically, "Crawl" appears to be a debunking of religion. I have not figured out completely what Be Somebody is about, but from I hear, it sounds like the song is about a relationship gone bad and one spouse kills the other. Lyrical content aside, Caleb Followill has pipes. They're not golden god type pipes, but in a world where many pop artists use auto-tune instead of truly singing, his voice stands out. He has a very southern drawl to his voice, which I like. // 8

Overall Impression: Basically, if you took U2 to Alabama and locked them up in Muscle Shoals studio for a month and told them to create an album, Kings Of Leon's "Only By The Night" is what you will get. This isn't straight rock n' roll, it's too poppy for that. However, due to the Followills' compositional strength, this is an album that gets played on the radio and you can still enjoy. I never actually heard of KOL prior to this album, but once I heard this, I went back and listened to their past material. I understand that their southern rock sound on the earlier albums doesn't exist here, and some fans will hate that. But, this is a band of four men who are growing older, so of course their sound will alter. What do you expect? // 8

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