The Kings of Leon, and the kings of Southern rock in general have returned this year and on the 24th September 2013; their latest and believe it or not, sixth studio album was released. The latest album has immediately represented a consolidation of every single evolution KOL have been through and where this band has always had a very polarising appeal in the past, they may bring their entire audience together for the first time. This point is meant in the sense that some people have always had the old and perfectly invalid argument that “they turned shit after the second album…” or at the same time, some people will be found demanding from the local indie DJ *cough* that he play ‘Use Somebody’ or he’ll get his head kicked in maaaaate. We stand here and pray that this unification is not just wishful thinking, but that some people will jump off their high horse, and others will actually listen to something, even though the radio hasn’t shoved it down their Carling swilling throats.
So the album kicks off in stylish fashion with the first single from it, that being one of the summers biggest garage rock anthems ‘Supersoaker’. What more can you say about this song apart from it’s a fine piece of work and actually encapsulates everything I banged on about in the above paragraph. The drums sound like they’ve been extracted from ‘Aha-Shake Heartbreak’, while the guitar’s resemble those on songs like ‘Sex on Fire’ and ‘Notion’ from their fourth LP ‘Only By The Night’. Caleb’s vocals are possibly better than anything he’s ever recorded before, and the lyrics are so easy to pick up on first listen. The highlights appear when he gets aggressive and shouts with that Southern drawl, and takes us all back to Molly’s Chamber. ‘Supersoaker’ is a strong introduction to ‘Mechanical Bull’ and a highlight from the whole album.
‘Rock City’ sounds like a Deep South traditional. It’s amazing that four lads that come across so cool, and accomplished now in their business, can so easily go back to their roots, and write an angsty rock n roll ballad, but with an upbeat drive, and a guitar solo that steals the show. Hat’s off to the guys for ‘Rock City’. It’s quite clear that things are different now for the guys, as we’re three tracks in, not that this will be a track by track run down of any description, but the tempo has stayed relatively high, and for the past few albums, there has been a structure that they’ve set for themselves which appears to have been thrown out of the window. ‘Because Of The Times’ (album three) started with the haunting ‘Knocked Up’, ‘Only By The Night’ began with the even more disturbingly haunting warbling found on ‘Closer’ and ‘Come Around Sundown’ kicked off with the relatively morose ‘The End’ which is of course an odd choice to kick off with, based on title alone. So what’s happened for the lads to kick off with ‘Supersoaker’ and then go on to maintain that tempo, and that spirit for the first three songs? I won’t pretend at all to know, but by the look on Caleb’s face during the music video for ‘Supersoaker’, they’re just having so much more fun, and good times may be here at last. That’s how I like to interpret it anyway. ‘Beautiful War’ does however showcase some of the same values that those intros did previously, but by now I’m ready for a break, and the name gives things away as it is indeed a beautiful song. Steady and deliberate in its approach, KOL have penned an emotionally charged masterpiece here in which they refer to love as a beautiful war that doesn’t mean anything unless there’s something worth fighting for. Which is a sentiment that the great Jordin Sparks alluded to in her 2009 classic, ‘Battlefield’… well sort of. The album continues to catch our ears, and keep us glued and interested throughout. Great riffs, throwbacks to previous incarnations of the group, and just a line up of songs, that appear to have been carefully written with love, expertise and patience. ‘Temple’ is an instant favourite of mine personally, and visions of playing it at October’s Transmission are already running wild. Whereas the big resounding ballad on this album, is probably the already radio played ‘Wait For Me’, which has already captivated fans and radio listeners alike.
‘Family Tree’ has a sound unlike any I’ve ever heard from the four Tennessee boys before. The drums have a roll not unlike a hip-hop beat, and the guitars have concentrated a jumpy blues riff, that becomes the hook behind the whole track. I nearly broke my neck with all the nodding I felt forced to do when giving track seven its first going over. Especially when the choir comes in towards the end, and that’s when the clapping begins, and next thing I’m on the table in McDonald’s kicking half my happy meal at a terrified family. The mood doesn’t change at any point, there are no weak links on this album and every time the mood reaches its furthest, possible extremity; the vibe transforms, drops you back down, grabs your heart and your mind, to make you listen to the carefully crafted words of one of rock n roll’s absolute favourite bands from the past ten years. I recently said to friends during a discussion, that to become one of those names that truly stood out, and to go the distance and be regarded one of the great names of our generation, mentioned in the same breath as The Rolling Stones, The Beatles, Led Zeppelin, The Smiths, Nirvana, Oasis, Arctic Monkeys and very few others, they would find that they had a little more to prove… and then ‘Mechanical Bull’ happened. As far as I’m concerned, they will be named one of the finest bands of all time from now on. You may have a different opinion of course, but you’d be wrong…
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)