Sound — 7
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.
Lyrics — 7
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.
Overall Impression — 7
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.