Anyone remember Kings of Leon? Anybody hate the use of rhetorical questions at the start of articles? Anybody enjoy shoehorning in unnecessary sentences just to quench an eternal desire to adhere to the rule of three? Back on topic, Kings of Leon are back and new writer Jade Attwood is going to tell you all about it.
After three years of touring, recording and “recovering” (in dear Caleb’s case); Kings Of Leon are back with their sixth studio album. But Mechanical Bull’s elder siblings have raised the bar pretty damn high. Will this fresh little newbie be forever cast under Only By The Night and Come Around Sundown’s commercial shadows, suggest a return to their older style, or strike its own path to success?
Being honest, I initially found it difficult to simply categorize the tracks into distinct stylistic groups. Each musical offering is pretty individual despite mostly adhering to the classic formula born from the Followill boys’ collective talents. Though it might sound like a dreadful cliché, the album seems to take its listeners on a journey of how exactly the band came to be who they are: from their garage-dwelling, southern-rocking country roots to their now worldwide fame.
The opening single Supersoaker is a stadium anthem through and through. Its addictive opening riff and catchy chorus cries out for a stage to be played from. Similarly, the echoing tones of Temple are made for eager Kings fans to holler back emphatically. Both tracks also feature face-melting guitar solos fully demonstrating Matthew’s talents. The tracks represent the bands top-notch live reputation, which they have built tirelessly throughout their career.
Pleasingly peppered throughout the album are tracks that reminisce of the bands earlier style with stronger country influences evident. Neither Last Mile Home nor Family Tree would look a bad fit within the track listing of one of the band’s earlier records. Caleb plays on his distinct accent and vocal quality within the winding melodies of the tracks to stunning effect, sounding much like his younger self. In the aptly titled Don’t Matter; Caleb matches the thrashing tones with a harsher manner, which serves as a nice metaphor for their foolhardy drug-induced years of their early career.
Not to be forgotten are the more leisurely ballads which slow the pace of the album right down, letting it breath: resonant of the chilled vibe of Come Around Sundown. Beautiful War and Wait For Me play a similar role to long-standing crowd-pleasers such as Knocked Up and Cold Desert.
There are, as with most albums, however a couple of duds. On The Chin seems to drag in a sleepy haze. Although vaguely enjoyable the track seems pretty generic, like its not really pushing towards any climax. Finally Work On Me is kind of awkward in its composition with an unfamiliar surfer-esque vibe, which seldom suits Caleb’s gritty country voice.
Some reviewers have claimed that the album as a whole is “childish” in tone. In my eyes, and ears for that matter, the record is far from that. Yes, it is similar to their older “post-sex on fire” style in ways, but it’s more an expression of how the Kings’ have grown up rather than proof of a return to the days of Youth and Young Manhood or Aha Shake Heartbreak. Over the past two albums the band have proved their worth commercially and now they seem to just be out to make the kind of music that they want to make. With their credibility as one of the most successful rock bands to come out of America in the past 10 years in tact, Kings Of Leon are finally creating music for themselves in the styles that they really want to. The Followill clan have certainly grown out of grungy long-haired early days (though that doesn’t mean that they’ve developed an aversion to the long haired look), both in looks and musically. But one thing is for sure they aren’t leaving their past behind, and Mechanical Bull is the proof.
Jade Attwood @AttwoodJade
Got an opinion on Mechanical Bull? Fire it at us, whether its musically founded or just wonderment over the obsession the Followill lads have with five syllable album titles, we want to hear it! Honest we do. Get in touch via Twitter or Facebook or even smoke signals – actually not smoke signals, we’ve got the ozone layer to think of here!