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Only By the Night (Deluxe Version)

Kings of Leon

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iTunes Review

As the Followill brothers (and cousin Matthew) grow up their sound matures in unexpected ways. Their first releases promoted a group tough on guitars and infatuated with a southern-slinging garage rock; their more recent work has turned its ears towards an anthemic arena rock that singer Caleb Followill embraces with the messianic streak of Bono himself (or at least the Black Crowes’ Chris Robinson). “Use Somebody” twirls in a splashing of guitar riffs and reverb-ed atmospherics, the backing vocals merging with the indistinct drones of the wispy keyboards. “Manhattan” most directly recalls the soulful screed of the Crowes’ Chris Robinson, while the band show unusual restraint leaving silences and space where they once would’ve come out with all guns drawn. By expanding their influences and options, Kings of Leon, for better and worse, have left their roots behind. The primitive, angry growls have turned to pensive moments of calm introspection (“Revelry,” “Cold Desert”). When they do ramp things up, it’s with a jazzy precision as “Crawl” and “Sex on Fire” employ a musical intricacy that would’ve been unthinkable back in the days of Youth and Young Manhood. It’s this band’s natural evolution, but there’s no denying it’s a shock to the system.

Customer Reviews

Give this a 4.8

The Kings of Leon have achieved something great with "Only By the Night." Hardcore fans will complain they have lost what initially made them stand out, and that is true. KOL's early days were marked by a rawness and intensity unparalleled in the underground and indie scenes. "Youth and Manhood" and "Aha Shake Heartbreak" carried unchecked , yet driving tempos and the wholly individual voice of Caleb Followill. "Because of the Times" became something of a transition. Complex melodies and harmonies entered into the group's distinct structure, giving what many felt as a "pop" glossing to many of their songs. I am of the opinion that "B.o.t.T" showed true growth for a very promising band, and as such, looked forward to "Only by the Night" with high expectations. My biggest fear for this album was that because of the short time between efforts (around a year and a half) "O.b.t.N" would be "Times 2.0". After having listened seriously to this album several times of over, I can say that "Night" has set an outstanding benchmark in KOL's career and believe that this album should rival Coldplay's "Viva La Vida" for Rock Album of the Year." Addressing the album itself, "Night" launches with "Closer", a chilling touch that should quell any debate over Caleb's intensity and rawness. Whereas the clashing between vocals and instruments drove KOL's previous albums, the opening song displays the growth of the band, with vocals and instruments blending seamlessly. For those wanting a kickback to older days, "Crawl" satisfies the need for a tearing bass and rampant guitar. A brilliant highlight for the album, "Use Somebody" has all of the Followills working in sublime harmony. Pounding percussion, lifting vocals (both lead and back up), dynamic lead and rhythm guitar, and driving bass leave you feeling the song is over all to soon and have you craving one more chorus. As the album closes with "Cold Desert", a subtly powerful tribute to a relationship's end (You've told me you loved me/That I would never die alone), the Followill clan proves why the world should stop and take notice to the Kings of Leon. Their sound has matured and refined, the mark of any good band. At the same time, they have transcended the tone and feel of their previous efforts, which is the mark of a great band. They have made a case for becoming rock gods, but for now, I'll settle for them as Kings.

OH NO!

It saddens me deeply that this great band has drifted away from the southern rawness that used to set them apart from every other band. Like the Stones before them, the Kings were great because they were real. Their records were never overly produced or polished. They were raw and the band displayed a synergy of noise that is rare in the music world today. On this record, to my dismay, they have steered in a direction that has been thoroughly traveled, and stripped of most all artistic authenticity. Only By the Night sounds like it was run through a hundred times over again until every note, chord, and snare drum beat was crystal clear and in perfect harmony. Whether this is a cry for a larger audience, or it is simply a loss of creativity, I can only guess. All one can do at this point is hope that the next album will be a return to the bluesly-southern-rock’n roll that used to send shivers down my spine.

Album of the Year

Finally REAL MUSIC in 2008!! Folks... Lil Wayne, Jonas Brothers or Hannah Montana is not music.

Biography

Formed: 2000 in Nashville, TN

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Initially embraced as "the Southern Strokes" for their resurrection and reinvention of Dixie-styled rock & roll, Kings of Leon steadily morphed themselves into an experimental rock outfit during the 2000s. The Tennessee-bred quartet debuted in 2003 with the Holy Roller Novocaine EP, whose blend of raw, unpolished boogie rock was further explored on their debut full-length, Youth & Young Manhood. Such revivalist music was matched by a similarly revivalist appearance — including long...
Full Bio

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