Kings of Leon
Only By The Night
4.5 out of 5 stars
Having been a fan of this band for the better part of four years, I have to admit I was a little taken aback by Kings of Leon’s musical progression on their latest release, Only By the Night. This album sounds very little like their previous three albums and is a step in a bold new direction for Kings of Leon.
Let’s put it this way, I was going to pan this album in this review upon first listen, as it was such a departure from their hard rocking ways of the past, which I absolutely adored. But something happened by my fourth time through the album; I finally got it and understood the direction they were taking.
Only By the Night is Kings of Leon’s grand coming-out party. Filled with four-minute melodic anthems that sound familiar on first listen, this album is their most commercial release to date and will catapult this band into mega-stardom, if radio ever catches on.
Only By the Night was recorded at Blackbird Studios in Nashville, Tennessee, and was produced by Angelo Petraglia, Jacquire King and Kings of Leon.
The 11-song album flows very well (not a dud track on this) and finds a very mature rock band giving the hard guitar riffs the back seat to front man Calib Followill’s shining and soaring vocals.
Followill’s vocals are clearly the star of this album and, as his voice might have been buried in the mix on previous releases, it is now out front for all to hear. It seems as if Followill has finally found his own true voice and his infectious melodies and strong, staccato yells carry each song to new heights. This is a new band and their front man is finally ready to take the lead.
The album starts with the experimental, down-tempo track “Closer,” which explodes into the distorted bass groove of the album’s second track, “Crawl.” Surprisingly, these two opening tracks are two of the weaker ones on the album (not duds by any stretch, as I mentioned before, but not as strong as other tracks).
Things really start to take off with the third track, “Sex on Fire,” which is the album’s first single and is already posted on the band’s myspace page. The album’s next six songs, “Use Somebody,” “Manhattan,” “Revelry,” “17,” “Notion,” and “I Want You,” are probably the band’s most solid, creative work yet. The instrumentation is toned down and controlled and the album’s production is smart, letting choruses open up to grand sonic landscapes with Followill’s voice soaring over the top. No gimmicks here; just great songwriting, great studio performances and arrangements.
Only By the Night showcases Kings of Leon’s most prolific songwriting to date and is the best collection of songs they have recorded so far. It is going to be very hard for listeners to find a song of this album they don’t like.
I am fully aware that Kings of Leon will no longer be my little band from Tennessee once Only By the Night is released. There will be no stopping them from reaching the mainstream now.