Kings of Leon exploded in 2009. Out of a cannon they shot to music super-stardom upon the enormous success of their album Only By The Night, and seemingly overnight they went from being alternatively popular to pop music juggernauts.
As is the case with most bands who rise to significance relatively early and somewhat suddenly, the potential to lay an egg on a follow-up to their mega successful album was great. It has happened dozens of times in music history, and I’m sure you have bands you got into only for them to engage in a career of mediocrity and disappointment following their biggest exposure.
It happened to The Killers after Hot Fuss. Two disappointingly decent albums later, and I’m still waiting for them to bounce back to form. Alanis Morrisette never found the formula to breaking the glass ceiling following the phenomenal Jagged Little Pill. Audioslave’s studio work went steadily downhill following their very good debut, and I think we’re all still wishing and waiting on The New Radicals to put out another album (Seriously, I totally am).
What Kings of Leon have done with Come Around Sundown is admirable, if not entirely impressive. They resisted the itch to recreate the successful singles from Only By The Night, and become solely a mainstream pop rock band. In fact, this album is actually a step back by taking two steps forward, in the sense that maybe, just maybe, this band has a little bit of an idea what the hell they are doing.
Once through the album and it’s slightly evident where Kings of Leon fits in the musical scale of comparison (that oh so many writers like to use). Come Around Sundown ends up somewhere between U2 and My Morning Jacket. Lofty company, and Kings of Leon truly deserve it. On this their fifth album, they’re the mesquite-grilled U2.
The album kicks of with “The End”, an ironic approach to a new album. In almost every case I can imagine, this song would have been the final album track, sending the listeners off with a song whose flavor would stick in their mouth for awhile afterwards. It even has a little piano outro. But filling the rest of the song are The Edge-esque whoosing, grandiose guitars that pound our ear drums.
It’s clearly the U2 approach, though. U2 albums always start of blazing (well, let’s not talk about No Line on the Horizon), then they take a couple songs off and finish well. Here, it’s hard determining which songs are the skippable ones, and which ones will be the ones you skip to. The entire album flows well without having one specific, central theme that unites each song, and the album goes down really, really smooth.
After several times through the album, I’m still stunned at how good this record actually is. There aren’t any weak songs on the entire CD, and believe me, I tried to find them. For any Kings of Leon fan, this album is a must get, as it bridges where they’ve been with where they’re going quite well.
Score: 8.0/10 (Great)