Trying To Get To You

Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Kings Of Leon Underwhelm

The first time I ever saw the Kings of Leon, I was excited to see them. I was in a hotel room with the band, their lawyer and someone else working with them as they showcased for several record labels on their acoustic guitars. I was with a co-worker of mine from Island, and when we were told that the father of three of the band members was a Pentecostal preacher, I couldn’t wait to hear them play – after all, some of the greatest rock n’ soul has come from artists with intense religious upbringings who instead began to play the Devil’s music.

The band played three or four songs, and while I liked Caleb’s Followill’s voice and was struck by the band’s looks, I wasn’t sufficiently excited to want to sign them. Because of their religious background, I was expecting to hear something more fiery and soulful – but instead, the band played up their cool. Southern Strokes, indeed.

I’ve been generally indifferent to their albums since then, finding them rather slight, with few, if any, truly great songs. Their performances I’ve seen have been decent-to-good, but the amount of incredible press they’ve garnered has been to me. Maybe it’s because they’re great looking.

When I heard “Sex on Fire” on the radio about a month ago, I liked it a lot – much to my pleasant surprise - and thought it boded it well for their new album. But in listening to their new album, Only By The Night, I am once again underwhelmed. Yes, the vibe is cool – they’ve moved to a slightly bigger sound, seemingly influenced by both U2 and Radiohead – but these songs just aren’t remarkable. “Use Somebody” has a sweetly anthemic vibe circa The Unforgettable Fire, but this music is insular – it captures the emotions of the morning after a night of partying and pretty girls – not terribly interesting. It’s not a particularly bad album; it’s just not one that delivers on anything that has been claimed for them. Maybe it’s time for them explore the Pentecostal fire of their childhoods. That might be something.


Anonymous said...

All pomp & no circumstance.

Anonymous said...

I really enjoy Kings of Leon and felt that Because of the Times was a great record, but I agree that Only By The Night is a step back.