Monday, November 1

Album Of Last Month

Kings of Leon 'Come Around Sundown' (RCA)

Five albums in seven years is quite the undertaking when you take account of the three-year sabbaticals that the only-slightly-bigger Coldplay and Radiohead and U2 settle down to. But Kings of Leon work hard, maaaaan. Not to suggest that Bono doesn't crunch the numbers of a layered vocal in between saving Haiti and pulling up the Chile miners' rescue rope. But there's seemingly a work ethic lodged inside the Followill cerebrum which no other in the past decade has exhibited. And that means proper studio albums, Ryan Adams. Whether or not they've bettered themselves with each and every effort is only a little bit questionable, yet what isn't is the fantastically stomped-up heartiness rammed within each. And 'Come Around Sundown' really is no different, either.
Opener 'The End' (really not as witty as they think, I know) has a bass line which coulda been knocked off of 'Aha Shake Heartbreak', with its steeliness gingerlying around Caleb's semi-brawny whine. It's mellow for the album's anthemia, but that in itself displays the musical march these've gone on since 2004's 'Heartbreak' - and especially 2003's 'Youth and Young Manhood'.
'Radioactive' is actually effing brilliant once you get that video outta your head. Driving headfirst into its pre-chorus chorus (38 seconds to be exact) is undoubtedly the kinda technique Simon Cowell might be utilising upon The X Factor Winner's Song right this minute, though that - and its fuzzy Fender-picking and own glee club - doesn't make it wrong. Kings of Leon aren't likely to have spent their days recording this in NY pondering over that exact notion. Such indie craftsmanship is entirely unprocessed, and fool whoever hasn't seen it coming.
And if that was mighty, wait for 'Pyro' and 'Mary' and 'The Face', the latter wistfully working its loud bangs and pop'd cherry guitars about Caleb's yowlier-than-ever squeal. "I like your point of views so don't you shy away, riiiiiide out the wave," he (perhaps) asks his fiancee re the perils of fame. It is quite possibly this record's 'Use Somebody'.
Plus, if they hadn't been recording on the East Coast's capital, such a homecoming track as 'Back Down South' may not even be in existence. "When you see the lights and we hear the fights, it's gonna be a stunner; I've got something here if you give me one more beer, I'm gonna call a runner." Not only should this be the Tennessee state anthem, but the local airport would do well airing it in the arrivals' lounge at least 20 times a day.
'Birthday', meanwhile, carries on the LP's jumbo nature, all Edge effects pedals and festival refrains. And 'Pickup Truck', the real 'End', is precisely the hill-sitting reflecter it should be.
See, 'Come Around Sundown' is the kind of album Kings of Leon have been motioning toward - and there's very little fat to boot. What Caleb is bereft of in wordplay, they make up for in family-size indie pop strains. Bearing in mind their productivity, one day they really will go back down South, but let's enjoy the anthemia while it lasts, eh?

Best Track
The Face