Kings Of Leon: Come Around Sundown
It wasn’t that surprising when Tennessee quartet Kings Of Leon became superstars with their fourth LP, Only By The Night—they’d always had a knack for hooky songs with big riffs and stadium-filling backbeats—but it was disappointing that they crossed over with such a straight-ahead rock record, free of the experimental edge that made Aha Shake Heartbreak and Because Of The Times so exciting. Kings Of Leon’s fifth album, Come Around Sundown, is just as much of a crowd-pleaser as Only By The Night, but the four Followills bring back more of the chasing-a-whim personality of their earlier albums, whether they’re injecting doo-wop-style harmonies into the booming love song “Mary” or adding fiddle and slide guitar to “Back Down South,” a song that’s pleasantly twangy but also moody and pinging, like a collaboration between New Order and Levon Helm. Kings Of Leon still rely too heavily on deep echo and giddy-up guitar instead of fully developed melodies and lyrics, but few modern rock bands are as skilled at generating pleasurable friction out of one textured sound rubbing against another. When Caleb Followill yelps “It’s in the water where you came from” in the exultant “Radioactive,” he sounds like a man who’s supremely confident in that heritage, and where it’s led him.