Kings of Leon have definitely grown up. On their latest album “Only by the Night” the Followill family (three brothers and one cousin) have slowed down their sound and added some emotional depth transforming the album into one of rock’s best of the year, while at the same time completely reinventing their sound.
“Closer” sounds like a slower version of R.E.M.’s “Leave” from “New Adventures in Hi-Fi” and shows that the band has taken a distinct turn from it’s fuzzed-out guitar rock. The beat isn’t going to rock your world, but it has more emotional heft than you might expect with lines like “2000 years of change has taken its toll.”
Lead singer Caleb Followill proves throughout the album that his voice is one of the best that rock has to offer and the best example is “Manhattan.” He shows that the grit is still there from their previous albums, but the control he masters as his voice goes from nailing every note to on the verge of cracking on the verses to a controlled scream on the two word chorus “I say,” is nothing short of amazing. I say indeed. He also displays the same control when he says “Don’t knock it if you heard it before” on “Notion.”
“Manhattan” is just the climax of a three song orgasm (no pun intended) that includes “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.” While the rest of the album isn’t quite as spectacular and never veers into the classic rock sound that the band is known for, it is still worth repeated listens.
“Only by the Night” is Kings of Leon’s best album to date without question. The Followill family’s sound has grown up and with it, they have finally hit the big time. Kings of Leon are on top of the world and there is no sign of them coming down any time soon.