Kings of Leon - Only By The Night

2008-09-22 17:45
Only By The Night is that quintessentially American of guilty pleasures: a stadium rock record. Originally a less-bucktoothed version of Lynyrd Skynyrd, the Followill family band now resembles a guitar-smashing Lenny Kravitz ("Crawl") and a sold out Bruce Springsteen at The Garden ("Notion").

Though impressive in turning us on to soul power, there are moments ("Manhattan") when you wonder when Caleb Followill will stop bossing his surroundings and let his band play. The fighting unit that first belted out "Red Morning Light" seems oddly subservient, creating echo-y practice rooms for Caleb's jaded mornings-after in favour of two minute rock tantrums.
Cynics will point to "Sex on Fire", a suspicious bow to indie dance rock, as final proof of a market research meltdown. But being the lewdest slice of hot young sex the Followills could possibly dish up ("Them knuckles are pale, the soft lips are open"), it stands remarkably erect as just the kind of songwriting that reminds us who they are. Quick stops at underage flesh candy ("17") and endless summers á la Dazed & Confused ("I Want You") complete the revival of KOL's horny myth, ultimately a good thing.

At this level of demand, you feel the next KOL album isn't long off. We'll be waiting. At the first sign of an "ooh, ah" chorus (pretending we never noticed on "Revelry"), we'll know that the talented bros and their cousin have been tiptoeing to an all-year slot at some god awful Las Vegas casino. For now, a broader set list and a groovier Caleb is something fans can applaud and perhaps, for a few months at least, listen to.

- Niel Bekker
Which came first, the chicken or the egg? Did Kings of Leon’s music grow into their "next U2” stature, driving them up the charts, or did success change the way they sound?

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