“We know a lot of people would honey u.s.a. to come out with long hair and moustaches, to exist the guys from ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ again, but we’re a different ring now,” Caleb Followill told
in this week’s comprehend story. Permit that be a warning to y’all from the Kings Of Leon frontman: Nashville’due south about notorious family of rockers is back – more confident and comfortable than always – but perhaps non in the exact manner yous might hope. And that’due south no bad matter.
On the comprehend – Kings Of Leon: “Nosotros’re happy and we dearest each other”
‘When You See Yourself’ sees the Kings marry their interests old and new, finally embracing the mature, laid-back versions of themselves. As Caleb says, the pouty bad boys of yesteryear are long gone. Information technology makes sense when yous consider the band’s chronology: it was with their fourth album, the moody ‘But Past The Night’, that things skyrocketed for Kings Of Leon, with ubiquitous hits ‘Sex On Fire’ and ‘Use Somebody’ finally connecting with fans in the U.s.a.. Now, with record number eight, they’ve bottled everything learned on the road in the three (slightly more underwhelming) albums since, while however reconnecting with the all-time parts of what made the earth love these bouncy, unruly rockers in the starting time place.
Lead single ‘The Brigand’ channels the playful energy of KOL all-timers ‘The Bucket’ and ‘King of the Rodeo’, with its earworm riff and vivid lyrics reminding us that storytelling, heedless about cowboys and reckless adventures has always been what the Followills do best. It’s clever to introduce the new album to the world with this crowd-pleasing track, while more than vulnerable ballads and lucid battlecries patiently wait in the wings.
There are meditations on growing older (the wistful ‘Fairytale’) and statements on climatic change (‘Claire And Eddie’), interspersed with honey letters to quiet, domestic romance.
“1 more than dark, one more dark will you stay here,” Caleb sings on the album’due south title track, urging for the world to slow down for only a moment – it’s surprising, refreshing fifty-fifty, from the frontman of what used to be the quintessential party band.
Kings Of Leon spend the whole anthology toying with what fans might expect – and clearly have great fun doing so. Take the funk-inflected bassline of ‘Stormy Weather’, or the seductive, nostalgic lyrics of ‘Golden Restless Age’, which muse on youth:
“Yous’re only passing through a class of y’all / I look in your eyes and there’south a rage”.
The dominant feeling on ‘When Yous See Yourself’ is i of introspective contemplation. ‘Supermarket’, kickoff introduced to via Instagram equally an acoustic carol called ‘Going Nowhere’ final March, reworks demos dating dorsum to 2008 and speaks of
“going nowhere”, but, nearly chiefly, being someone who will
“never be whole again / Until I get clean”.
Confessions of past errors and the dissection of situations that just aren’t fun anymore earn the album a wisdom, where Kings Of Leon of the past might have preferred some kind of confrontation.
“Is this the earth I belong to / Or just a shade of low-cal?”
Caleb asks on ‘Time in Disguise’, reckoning with his life lived nether the spotlight for so long.
Yet at that place are plenty of high-energy bursts of light you tin already see bringing a crowd to life, too. ‘Echoing’ has the lightheaded adrenaline of the band’s electric first two albums, the aforementioned ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ (2003) and ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’ (2004). And ‘A Wave’ shifts from mournful keys to dynamic, well-nigh jubilant riffs as the frontman confess a yearning to cleanse himself: “Oh, wave crash downwardly on me / Until I’g whole over again.”
Somewhere between wisdom and adrenaline, the best runway on ‘When You Meet Yourself’ finds Kings Of Leon at their nearly romantic.
“I’ll love you lot ’til the day is gone”
Caleb sings on ‘Fairytale’ – the frontman is married to model Lily Aldridge, with whom he has two children. His brothers Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew are all husbands and dads too; there is a sense of unified, level-headed gratitude to live – at long terminal – a quiet life. The violins soar, Caleb’south voice whispers and reverberates, and you finally get a sense of what pure happiness sounds like.
Throughout ‘When You Run across Yourself’, the frontman strains his voice less than on past records – which would sometimes muddle lyrics, only cutting through any instrument with prickly tension – though it’s yet incomparable: tender and filled with tragedy one moment, electrical and fearless the adjacent. Nosotros’re unlikely to be totally rid of guitars on a Kings Of Leon album any time before long, but there are more daring rhythms and more sophisticated production hither. It might be cheers to the band’due south super-producer Markus Dravs, returning for a second tape after ‘WALLS’, but importantly it’southward perhaps a result of Kings Of Leon beingness more curious and energised in themselves.
If there was a hump between 2011’s dreary ‘Come Around Sundown’ and 2016’due south poppy ‘WALLS’, they’re long past it now. We’ll be seeing the Kings for a long hereafter – and if every next album is like this ane, that’s a cause for celebration.