Monday, December 22, 2008

Album Review: Kings of Leon - Only by the Night (4.5/5)


Some Kings of Leon history: Kings of Leon came into the spotlight back in 2003, with their debut album, Youth and Young Manhood, whilst becoming a critic favorite; receiving some pretty rave reviews--it didn't become a stellar hit. Bypass their second album, Aha Shake Heartberak then you have their third album, Because of the Times delivered the band their big break--again receiving rave reviews from Critics; notable The Observer, who awarded the album a generous 5 star review--but this time matching it with some commercial success, producing a good jump off point for their fourth album.

And now Kings of Leon is a name known pretty much everywhere now, we have their much anticipated fourth album, Only by the Night (released back in September). A more sophisticated, clean cut alternative rock album with a dash of pop. Whilst, Because of the Times gave the band their big break, I think Only by the Night really shows Kings of Leon have arrived.

The album kicks off with the haunting, "Closer" which begins with dark misconstrued beeps, before the drums and the nostalgic electronic guitars kick in. It's a very eerie number, a great darkening start to the album. "Crawl," carries through the same theme--except the electronic guitars become more distinctive and rugged, while the drums fade into the background but still effective.

The first song I ever heard by Kings of Leon was, "Sex on Fire" earlier this year--instantly capturing my musical attention with its upbeat, fast paced rock sense, embedding a rush of drums and electronic guitars, becoming the bands first UK #1. The follow up single, "Use Somebody" just fends it out in quality, whilst I do love "Fire,"--"Use Somebody," is just fantastic, it's a breezy cut, noticeably more slower, taking influences from U2. The song doesn't have a traditional structure, which is what I love about it--the chorus is essentially an instrumental section, after the build of repetition of the lyrics ("you know that I could use somebody"/"you know that I could make you notice").

"Manhattan," is a soothing mid-tempo, notably more paced than some of the other tracks; pursuing some sharp vocals; a result of the distorted guitar and drums. "Revelry," is another mid-tempo, but still goes for a more edgy sound--it doesn't really build up to anything, but the beat does pick up half-way throughout. "Notion," begins with some revered strings, accompanied with some aggressive vocals, sounding like a slower version of, "Sex on Fire."

After, "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody," my favorite track on here is, "I Want You" which is a soulful mid-tempo--clanging with hi-hats, twiddling strings and pacing drums. It's a definite gem of the album--It's brilliant. It also has my favorite lyric of the album ("I'll call shot gun, you can play your R&B tunes"). The chorus is overbearingly melodic, the layred guitars are also pretty neat. "Be Somebody," is more dogmatic, it's verses are tuneless--making its chorus really standout.

The only tracks I don't really like are, "Cold Desert" it runs too long (5:35) not really building up to anything and "Beneath the Serivice," doesn't have the power of the other tracks, the electronic guitar doesn't have any notable effect.

The album closes with the mellow, "Frontier City." Kings of Leon deliver a very good alternative rock album, Only by the Night isn't outstanding, but is by no means undwhelming.

Best: I Want You, Use Somebody, Sex on Fire, Manhatten, Closer, Crawl

1 comment:

Ken said...

One of the best albums to come out last year! Nice! I'd give it a 4.5 too!