We all know full well that Kings of Leon released their seventh studio album WALLS just over a week ago. Some of you may even know because we’ve talked about it so often on all our various forms of social media. We certainly should have reviewed or spoken about this album release already but between smashing through another awesome Transmission indie night and setting up for even bigger and more exciting plans in the near future, it’s been a damn busy time. Still, here we are, and we most certainly have to talk about WALLS…
As I said, it’s the seventh time around for the Tennessee four-piece and it’s well documented that there’s a strict divide when it comes to people’s opinions on their sound and its evolution from the first two LP’s & initial EP, to the arena ready, slightly grit lacking approach of latter albums. Some people refuse to listen to anything post ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ whereas many, including all of us at Mojo20, continue to enjoy their evolution and follow their maturity, celebrating it and understanding that times change, writing material becomes a parody if not altered and that maintaining a keen and positive ear on things is way more fun than writing off the past ten plus years for a band that is essentially one of the best on the planet. ‘WALLS’ for me feels like a culmination and makes sense and adds context to the past four albums. Although I cite them all as decent pieces of work, featuring some of their most incredible tracks, the transition has always been more subtle on each, altering slightly and in most cases leaving us with a few tracks off each album that don’t matter as much. ‘WALLS’ doesn’t have that. Every track, all ten of them is a winner. There’s no weak spot at all and the record flows through nicely, maintaining a high tempo for the first half and then cooling off towards the end with tracks like ‘Muchacho’ & ‘Conversation Piece’ and terminating with the title track which is certainly one of their finest attempts at a sentimental ballad ever. Before the release of the album we were treated to four teasers including then single ‘Waste a Moment’ as well as ‘Reverend’, ‘All Around The World’ and the aforementioned title track, which are all great songs and worthy releases, but also have you excited from the start to indulge and dig a little more to find another favourite amongst the pack. In a recent Radio 1 Live Lounge session, KOL played five tracks including the current single, a contemporary cover, classics like the all time powerhouse ‘Molly’s Chambers’ and the sometimes wet but obviously well written and well received ‘Use Somebody’, but they also threw in, brand new title track, ‘Over’, perhaps hinting at this being the second single release from the album. Is that the right choice? Who knows? I guess only they do. I would have personally said that ‘All Around the World’ would have been a very radio friendly choice and the music video it already has is a lot of fun, but I’d have urged the release of ‘WALLS’, the final track on the album as I think a global audience would find it spellbinding in its beauty and simplicity. But what do I know eh?
It truly is a wonderful comeback from one of the world’s finest rock n roll bands. Would I like to see them go a little more Southern like the early days? Of course. Even if just one or two songs on the album had a more bluesy, country feel to them I’d be overjoyed, but I firmly believe Kings of Leon have made their full ascension into adulthood, fatherhood and middle age, and the fact they do it gracefully and with such awareness of their individual current situations is admirable. It’s the same argument I have with people wondering why Arctic Monkeys don’t still write songs about hanging around on street corners in Sheffield and the rare characters from off the estate nearby. It’s because life moves and people progress and adapt. Although it might be a wait until we hear even more music from them, I’ll forever be excited to see what Kings of Leon do next.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)