The Kings 'Come Around' once again to reclaim their rock throne.
Over the last decade the Kings Of Leon have gone from long haired folk rockers to commercial darlings but over the years one things hasn't changed and that's their output of classic American folk rock and roll for the ages. From hanging round in 'Molly's Chambers' to having burning problems with love the band have grown up from youngsters travelling and touring the States to men with regal status amongst the best bands in the world. 'Because Of The Times' set the ball rolling and then 'Only By The Night' scored big, kicked off by the huge success of anthem 'Sex on Fire'. The album which went 2 times platinum in the U.S., 5 in the UK and 9 times in Australia. It would be a big task for anybody to follow this success but just two years later Leon returns with 'Come Around Sundown' and it's clear from the opening that time hasn't dawned on the band.
The Kings fire hasn't burnt out and that's radiated clear from the LP's lead single 'Radioactive' which is classic catchy, Kings Of Leon feel-good rock. The reason the Kings latest material stands out from it's equally good original recordings is because of the more atmospheric sound. Tracks like 'Trunk' and 'Cold Desert' really captured the feelings of isolation and loneliness in such an evocative way. This is continued on 'Come Around Sundown' on the opener 'The End' and the closer 'Pickup Truck'. Both tracks feature the Kings Of Leon's trademark haunting guitar and emotional vocals.
'The End' and the album starts with the emotive lyrics, "Running with the streetlights/laughing in the grave/he swears he's gonna give it up, its never gonna be enough /I just wanna be there when you're all alone, thinking bout a better day, when you had it in your bones". While 'Pickup Truck' lifts up the emotion further with the lines "Hate to be so emotional, I didn’t mean to get physical/But when he pulled in & he revved it up, I see you crawl out a pickup truck, /And in the moonlight I run him down, all kickin’ screamin’ and rollin’ around,/A little piece of a bloody tooth, just so you know I was thinkin’ of you,". 'Pickup' wont lift up the spirits of a broken man lost in love, but it sure acts as the perfect soundtrack for a jilted, broken hearted ex, the kind of pain and frustration only a man knows. These are the kind of lyrics that you thought songwriters didn't pen anymore and that's why the Kings Of Leon are such a refreshing band more than ten years and five albums deep in the game.
Kings Of Leon also muse over one of the most sung about women in the history of rock and roll music 'Mary' (See, Springsteen, Bruce) resulting in one of their catchiest numbers since 'Charmer'. 'Mary' has as much appeal as Gina Gershon. She stands out as much today as she could of a decade or so ago drawing in a crowd. The back to back tracks 'The Face' and 'The Immortals' denote atypical classic Kings Of Leon songs which are as more than welcome as the track 'Birthday' that on listen makes an otherwise ordinary day that much better.
The album may not be as strong as 'Only By The Night' but 'Come Around Sundown' is not pretending to be something it's not. It's a cohesive, tight listen start to finish where 'repeat' will be hit more times than 'skip'. It also features great numbers like 'Back Down South' that hark back to Leon's original material sound and 'Beach Side' that goes back even further to classic, Southern American rock. As well as going back to find their sound the band also move forward, further developing their signature traditional sound and making it all their own, hitting the right notes on 'No Money' and 'Mi Amigo' resulting in 'Sundown' being an astronomy of diverse but focussed rock shining in all it's brightness.
The Kings Of Leon may have had it best 'By The Night' but as they hit 'Sundown' they don't disappear below the horizon. Instead they carry the torch that still burns from the success of their last LP and with their new release they still produce beautiful conditions of atmospheric music. Even after the first listen this heart warming rock feels as familiar as anything before it in all it's classic magnitude. It's the perfect music to listen to on one of those disappearing Summer nights, parked up in your car with the one you love watching the sunset come around. TIM DAVID HARVEY.