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Kings Of Leon - Only ByThe Night

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It had to happen. Before every cooler-than-thou indie scenester casts their critical ear upon the fourth album from Tennessee’s finest and deals the inevitable – œcommercial hit equals blasé album’ tag, I’ll say it here: Only By The Night is half perfect. Half promise, half fodder, half different, half re-runs, the band with the modern day Bon Jovi following misses it by that much.

Observing their growth from the shoot-from-the-hip swagger of 2003’s debut Youth & Young Manhood, through the rollicking Aha Shake Heartbreak of 2004, and last year’s indisputable single machine Because Of The Times, we have seen the creation of faultless albums and an ever-expanding fan-base. Each album has surprised and delivered on the high hopes held for these lady-killers, who were thrust onto world stages resplendent with their southern-fried, God-loving, pubescent facial hair innocence.

The Followill lads could be relied upon for the dirty, strutting singles ( Holy Roller Novocaine, Molly’s Chambers ), instant dancefloor hits ( The Bucket, California Waiting, McFearless ), and honestly talent-laden tunes even your sound-of-hearing grandmother would tap along to ( True Love Way, Red Morning Light, Taper Jean Girl ). Although a Kings song would oft-appear in movie soundtracks, late night sport news segments, and (shudder) variety television shows, it was undoubtedly Because Of The Times that saw the four hit the mainstream. On Call was a worldwide smash. And with its U2 polish and Caleb’s clean vocals, it catapulted the album into more accessible hands. However, every song on the album sounded original; each had its merits and place.

Do not get me wrong, Sex On Fire is an awesome single. However, every time I hear it (and that is a lot, thanks mainstream radio), I can’t help but hear Stereophonics’ Dakota – right down the verse’s repeated words, the soaring chorus, and the somewhat unspectacular lyrics. Anyone? But it works. It somehow seems a deceptive precursor for the album, which, bar a handful of tracks, is all very much the same.

Downright the best track on Only By The Night is opener Closer. The lilting Because Of The Times two-note guitar gives way to pulsating bass—œn-drums domination, whilst Caleb rasps about the Reckoning or the Rapture or the Apocalypse… It is as close to shoegaze without the pretension, or repetitiveness of the actual genre.

Slickly produced by Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King, the U2 polish is revisited with the Followill’s take on Mysterious Ways through Crawl. It is fuzzy-bass loud, politically-minded (“The reds and the whites and abused/The crucified USA”), stadium-sized rock at its best. Manhattan is a hark back to their summery, guitar-laden work on Aha, allowing Nathan to plod along on the drums whilst Jared walks the bass along a long stretch of road.

I Want You is pure – œ80s Pixies-cum-The Cure storytelling, and is the only respite toward the end of the album, caught between ho-hum Notion and the almost Kelly Clarkson empowerment ballad Be Somebody that The Boss could have penned. 17 – the creepy older man cradle-snatcher themes aside – begins as a Christmas song and culminates in mediocrity. Revelry goes on just that much too long. Notion slides by without raising as much as an eyebrow. Cold Desert is not Version 2.0 of the harrowingly seductive Milk from 2004.

We are told that Caleb was on some serious painkillers throughout the duration of writing Only By The Night (the after-effects of a sibling scuffle with Nathan), somewhat explaining the lulling effect of a good portion of the album. If these lacklustre tracks were scattered amongst the preceding LPs, they could pass by.

Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit. This is all well and good to propose. But as an entire album, it just lacks that special something we’ve come to expect from the solid foursome. Was it rushed? If the wickedly-good B-sides Frontier City and Beneath The Surface are anything to go by, the boys still have it in them. So, whilst wishing them all the best for commercial success with Only By The Night, here’s pinning my high hopes upon a phenomenal album number five, sans the dodgy odes to Springsteen.

Only By The Night is out now on Sony BMG.

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kat627

kat627 said on the 9th Oct, 2008

This is an awesome review and as much as I love this album I tend to agree with you. It could have been more.

JackT

JackT said on the 10th Oct, 2008

Yeah, a typically excellent review of a big album! And there's something a bit off about '17' isn't there...

Adshoey

Adshoey said on the 10th Oct, 2008

Excellent review. Spot on.

dankobiaka

dankobiaka said on the 10th Oct, 2008

Great review.

What exactly is a "Bon Jovi following"?

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

buddha56

buddha56 said on the 11th Oct, 2008

"Furthermore, had this album been released by a new, near-unknown band, it’d be a hit." I disagree. If this were written by a new band, fans would be taken in by "Sex on Fire", only to be let down by the rest of the album...exactly what has happened to the kings themselves

daveisaghost

daveisaghost said on the 11th Oct, 2008



Sorry missed that...
One more time?

electronic wolf

electronic wolf said on the 11th Oct, 2008

Sorry missed that...
One more time?

hahahahahahhahhahahhahahahahha


good review, i enjoy it very much, but yes compared to older kings, it is very un-inspiring,

jetaime

jetaime said on the 11th Oct, 2008

Thanks for the feedback guys.
A 'Bon Jovi' following would be a band that has female fans purely due to their manly good looks. In my books anyway.
Make sure you hear the b-sides - oh so much better!

daveisaghost

daveisaghost said on the 11th Oct, 2008



Where abouts can they be found?

Opening and closing tracks are great IMO but the middle tracks just seem to be space that gets skipped every time.

nDodds

nDodds said on the 13th Oct, 2008

Well, I must be the only Kings fan of whom is completely satisfied with their latest edition! It definitely strikes a chord with me - especially Use Somebody. I think you need to take it for what it is. It may not be their greatest but I would undoubtedly not turn it off.

rhythm

rhythm said on the 13th Oct, 2008

I disagree completely.

I think the album is just brilliant with Caleb back to his song writting best.
Powerfull musically and lyrically..

4.5/5 puts it in my top 5 of 2008.

mezurashii

mezurashii said on the 13th Oct, 2008

hahaha, rhythm, my gosh....i love your signature line

k-rad

k-rad said on the 15th Oct, 2008

I love Sex on Fire.. but yes, Dakota, you are right! Still I think it is a very cool album.

k-rad

k-rad said on the 15th Oct, 2008

I love Sex on Fire.. but yes, Dakota, you are right! Still I think it is a very cool album.

Dexter Ramone

Dexter Ramone said on the 15th Oct, 2008

I think it was a great progression from their last one, I had another listen today and cannot fault it

mooney88

mooney88 said on the 15th Oct, 2008

its all about aha shake heartbreak

Spoz

Spoz said on the 15th Oct, 2008

"We are told that Caleb was on some serious painkillers throughout the duration of writing Only By The Night (the after-effects of a sibling scuffle with Nathan), somewhat explaining the lulling effect of a good portion of the album." - I think that quote pretty much nailed it. It's a sleepwalker thru and thru, ok to listen to, but doesn't pack any actual standouts..

rad-asaurus

rad-asaurus said on the 15th Oct, 2008

Thanks for the feedback guys.
A 'Bon Jovi' following would be a band that has female fans purely due to their manly good looks. In my books anyway.


Have you seen the video for On Call?

Where are these alleged good looks?:P

lak lak

lak lak said on the 16th Oct, 2008



thats still my fav by far

jetaime

jetaime said on the 17th Oct, 2008

Where abouts can they be found?

Opening and closing tracks are great IMO but the middle tracks just seem to be space that gets skipped every time.

After enough net-trawling, you'll find they're out there. You may need to search for the special 2-disc deluxe pack that came out - "Frontier City" was an iTunes special release.

And yes, i agree that the "On Call' video was a little, ahem, harsh- especially on Caleb's ears, but they're still lovely to look at.

asb123

asb123 said on the 19th Oct, 2008

it's an interesting one - grows on you, mucn like the bigger stadium epics, Augie, U2 etc. But I think there are some real standouts - Use SOmebody in the vein of On Call desperation, funny about how they sing about looking down on whats going on, I think tht's sucha common feeling! '17' like Jack said is slightly wrong, in a good way. Revelry kicks it for me - great lyric - typical of depserate cocaine partiers!