Kings Of Leon – Only By The Night

September 23, 2008

My first impression of Nashville based band Kings of Leon’s new release, Only By The Night, was that it was one half of a great rock album, but upon repeated listenings, I think I was wrong about that. After five good to great tracks in a row, ranging from the slow burning, slightly spacey opener “Closer,” the soaring, should be a single “Use Somebody,” to the strangely melancholy sounding ode to partying in “Manhattan,” the album merely switches tone a bit rather than drops in quality with “Revelry.” That said, I still like the first half of the album better, but then I can have few complaints about a second half that ends with the gorgeous “Cold Desert.” They have lately been accused by some fans of aping U2 owing to their expanded sound, but lead singer Caleb Followill’s powerful, often plaintive wails and Matthew Followill’s terrific guitar work, which is sometimes so subtle that it feels like a ghostly presence somewhere in the mix, keep the music firmly rooted in their Southern rock influences. Kings of Leon are making rock that feels both intimate and majestic at the same time. If they share anything in common with U2, it’s the earnestness and passion that U2 was celebrated for when they first emerged as a young band. Standout cuts: “Crawl,” “Sex On Fire,” “Use Somebody” and “Manhattan.”


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