Sound — 8
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.
Lyrics — 8
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.
Overall Impression — 8
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?