Once upon a time, in the state of Tennessee, there lived a bunch of shaggy misfits that went by the name of Kings of Leon. Each one related, they roamed around like some grungy, anti-establishment version of the Osmonds, with long hair, beards and riffs. Such beautiful, face melting riffs. With each album they grew stronger and more universally recognised. As the audiences grew the hair shortened, and along with a new clean-cut image came a cleaner sound and eventually an album that exploded across the world with its new pop appeal, abandoning those old fans to stroke their whiskey soaked beards in the dark…
Kings Of Leon, currently one of the world’s most beloved bands, return this month with their fifth studio album Come Around Sundown, and it is everything you hoped it would be. Like the last album Only By The Night (you may have heard of it, it was the Chlamydia of the music industry), Jacquire King’s production is astounding. Unlike the last album however, the raw essence of the instruments has been intentionally retained within the crisp sound, and it’s probably the best thing you’ll hear through headphones this year.
The album’s first single, Radioactive, is the second track and it is so much more effective in the context of the album, providing a nice change in tempo after the album’s downbeat opener. As the record produces it gets better and better, reintroducing the epic grandeur of the last record, only this time approaching it from a harder, somewhat less housewife-friendly direction. Come Around Sundown is very much a mature and experienced return to the appropriately named Youth and Young Manhood. Kings Of Leon have grown as both songwriters and as people, finally finding a balance between the reckless juvenility of their earlier work, and the flowery niceties of their recent material.
There are a couple of tracks that would have been at home on the last record, particularly The Immortals and opening track The End, but there are some truly unexpected surprises too, such as May, an old-timely love ballad. The album goes on to blend a variety of nostalgic genres, utilising pop, rock and roll, blues, a fuzzy hint of grunge and, most importantly, like the prodigal sons they’ve returned to the dusty sounds of the deep south, this time approaching it as men. By flirting with country and western they’ve managed to create an updated version of The Eagles and Lynyrd Skynyrd, most notably in the appropriately titled Back Down South.
To make a couple of great consecutive albums is a rare and special thing. Kings Of Leon have added a fifth to their discography. Come Around Sundown is brilliant.