Only By The Night
Out: September 23rd
I'll preface this review with a slightly unrelated note: I will not write up anything about the new of Montreal album, Skeletal Lamping, because of how much I hate it. With that in mind, I'm talking about a much better album than that in Only By The Night by Kings of Leon today.
To start, the album sounds like 80s hair metal, but better. The mood, the lyrics, everything just screams "if they were really that good at making music 25 years ago, they probably would have done this". Could the superior new sound be attributed to the painkillers that frontman Caleb Followill has been dabbling in as of late? If you ask him, he'll give emphatic 'yes', I'm sure, as he has claimed recently that the pills have allowed him to write the "best songs of his career." I wouldn't be too concerned about that...yet.
So what about the songs? Well, to start, "Closer" is a great opener. It really sets up the southern-influenced rock you're going to be experiencing over the ensuing 40 minutes, and puts you in the proper mindset for the album, which, though not relaxed necessarily, is an easy listen. This aesthetic holds on "Crawl", before the record truly opens up with the first single- "Sex On Fire". The track shouts the spirit of the album, a certain aspect of the nightlife which many would not embrace in song. The tune's catchy, energetic and simple chorus, "And you- your sex is on fire. And so- were the words to transpire," grab you right in with a great pop riff to back it up.
The album does not have a bad track, so stay tuned for #4, "Use Somebody" through #6, "17," and beyond. The entire middle series is the real meat of this one, and where you'll find the best material, if you're one of those people who'd much rather listen to bits and pieces of a record than the entire compilation in its intended form. The rest of the record really sends home the theme, and spirit of Only By The Night, with standout "Be Somebody" doing a pretty solid Richard Marx at times, but with no ill effects. The final track, "Cold Desert," presents the lasting argument, and perhaps refrain from the nightlife theme. A much calmer song than the others, it almost looks back upon the life lived in the previous nine tracks through the eyes of someone wiser, more learned from their experiences. The questions of self-doubt are apparent in this one, as is some degree of weariness with lines like, "I'm too young to feel this old." Still, this one finishes very well.
Like I've said- though I don't condone not listening to full albums, I will, as always, give a shout to the tracks that I felt stood above the others. For those interested; "Sex on Fire", "Use Somebody", and "Manhattan" are your best bets. For anyone who enjoys Kings of Leon's previous work, the aforementioned Marx, or an edgier version of The Strokes, this could be your album of the year, or at least something that'll warrant a couple spins around the ol' Itunes.
Rating: 8/10; Solid start to finish. What more can you ask for?