Sound — 7
Since releasing Only By Night in 2008, the Followill brothers have essentially become a worldwide phenomenon. The siblings, otherwise known as Kings of Leon, penned two of the most recognizable tunes of the past few years (Use Somebody, Sex On Fire), resulting in the Tennessee-based band being put under the microscope more than ever before. Upon listening to Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon's fifth studio album, it's hard not to be a bit more judgmental, expecting another gem that churns out hit single after hit single. That being said, the band certainly has plenty of single-worthy fare on Come Around Sundown, but perhaps nothing that lands the immediate effect of a song like Sex On Fire. Probably not by any type of coincidence, the album begins with a track interestingly titled The End. The dreamy, mellow offering highlights a strength that is ever-present on the entire album, namely the band's knack at choosing some of the most interesting, mood-inducing guitar effects out there. While the song is fairly straightforward, The End is one of the most moving songs on the entire CD thanks to Caleb Followill's passionate delivery. Radioactive is the first single on Come Around Sundown, undoubtedly because the chorus is immediately infectious and you'll be humming the melody love it or hate it for the rest of the day. At times the album gets stuck in repetitive arrangements, but Kings of Leon are able to dig themselves out of a hole through their arsenal of effects. Radioactive does tend to get a bit obsessive with the repeating chorus, and you'll realize that is the case at several moments on the record. A track like the homegrown-fueled Back Down South may not venture too far from the core, bare-bones arrangement, but it feels like you are getting a slice from the brothers' life not to mention the use of what sounds like slide guitar, which is always a refreshing touch. Mi Amigo carries the same stripped-down-but-honest feel, but of course, that doesn't mean Kings of Leon go full-on unplugged at any time. They are in many ways driven by the haunting, echo-rich guitar tones permeating Come Around Sundown, and it certainly has defined a big part of their sound thus far.
Lyrics — 8
For as radio-friendly as the Kings of Leon have become, you can't accuse them of reining themselves in too much. Mi Amigo puts it all out there with lines like, I've got a friend Who helps me to get up again; Showers me in boozes; Tells me I've got a big ole dick; And she wants my ass home. Granted, the majority of the tracks aren't that blunt, but the band does have a way of putting their own unique twist on the usual rhyme sequence (All the black inside me is slowly seeping from the bone; Everything I cherished is slowly dying or is gone; Little shaking babies and drunkards seem to all agree; Once the show gets started its bound to be a sight to see in Pryo). It's true that the choruses get tired after awhile because of their frequency, but elsewhere the band has written some fairly interesting content.
Overall Impression — 8
Caleb Followill seems to have eased up on his passionate delivery ever so slightly, and that most likely has to do with the fact that he's found love with a supermodel. It's hard to ooze melancholy when you have that going for you. In any case, the band as a whole has some intriguing moments on Come Around Sundown whether it's the Buddy Holly-esque approach to Mary, the jazzy chords of Beach Side, or the energized percussion of Nathan Followill in Pony Up. Come Around Sundown won't wow you immediately, but it will likely grow on most listeners.