So, I’ve loved the Kings of Leon since long before anybody’s sex was on fire, but I’m not one of those rabid purists who hates the albums they’ve made that have been far bigger commercial successes than their earlier work. Still, when I read an article in which Caleb Followill said that their latest offering, Mechanical Bull, would be more reminiscent of their first two albums, Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak, I was super excited.
Alas, I think that article I read was just a little bit misleading, and it’s a pity because it meant that when I listened to the new album for the first time, my initial reaction was disappointment. Which is unfair I guess, because it actually is a great collection of songs. But it’s more along the lines of their last album, Come around Sundown, and lacks the quirky, filthy, fucked upness of their early offerings. Maybe it’s time to just accept that the Kings of Leon have grown up a bit, and won’t be going back to their dark and twisty roots any time soon. Mechanical Bull is still full of great, catchy songs that combine country, guitar-driven rock and a little dash of indie loveliness. There are a fair few radio friendly tracks, although I dare say none with the break out, genre crossing appeal that Sex on Fire had, but they manage to avoid becoming too predictable and generic. My favourites so far have to be Temple, Beautiful War and Tonight, and the first single off the album, Supersoaker, has all the makings of a massive hit. The lyrics are questionable in places (Comeback Story‘s “I walked a mile in your shoes and now I’m a mile away and I’ve got your shoes” is not exactly their most profound work!), but beautiful in others, and musically the tracks are as fantastic as ever. Of course you can’t mistake Caleb’s vocals, and although I may have initially been a tad disappointed in this one, it’s slowly but surely creeping into my heart. Is it the comeback story of a lifetime? Well, no, but then, they never really went away, did they – they just changed a little, and that, I guess, is inevitable.