Artist: Kings of Leon
Album: Only By The Night
Comments: As an aspiring music dude, I do my best not to read anything about a given album until I've passed my own judgments on it. Sadly, due to my unemployment and my roommate's subscription to Spin, that kind of went out the window with Only By The Night, the latest from the Kings of Leon.
The big point of the article, which was a well done feature about the band, is that the Kings hope that this album will finally establish themselves in America. The dudes have long been popular in the UK, but have yet to make a splash in the red, white and blue. And while Only By The Night is a solid rock album , it would be a cheat to the American people if this is the album that grabs their attention, especially concidering how the band's back cateloge trumps this, their weakest record.
Night picks up where last year's excellent Because of The Times left off. The group is continuing their movement towards studio largeness and U2 inspired southern rock atmospheric anthems. Where as Times mixed these anthems with grittier tracks, this album is nothing but bigness, with almost none of the punch of earlier albums.
Considering this is an album full of anthems, a surprising number of them fall on their faces. The first two tracks are both forgettable duds of workmanlike rock music, while the majority of the album is "pleasant" at best. The album really begins with first single and most rocking song "Sex on Fire." What "Sex" lacks in rhythm and dance-readiness, it more than makes up for with its catchy chorus and infectious guitar work. "Use Somebody" "Revelry" and "Cold Desert" are all worth the price of admission. Each one is a grand effort full of echo-y guitars, the Kings signature quiet-calm rhythm section and engaging (if not always brilliant) vocals with "Cold Desert" taking the first prize for best anthem on the album.
The Kings have caught a lot of flack in the past for their subject matter, which is more or less entirely made up of songs about fucking. Considering one of there songs is about banging a 17 year old, I don't expect this album will dispel those concerns. While this kind of single mindedness usually turns me off, in the case of the Kings, the lyrics have always been secondary to the vocals, which are used more as an instrument of melody more than anything else.
So what do we have? We have an album of anthems about sex that occasionally float and occasionally fall on their faces. The biggest problem with Only By The Night is that, for all it's success, its just not as fun as past albums. Theres almost nothing to dance to, nothing to rock to, and for all their talk of coitus, I would sooner nap than screw to this album. I hope the Kings of Leon catch on in America, but I wish they could do it on a better album.
Rating: 6 out of 10
Key Tracks: Sex on Fire, Use Somebody, Cold Desert
Buy, Steal, Skip: Steal