sun 09/05/2021

CD: Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull | reviews, news & interviews

CD: Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull

CD: Kings Of Leon - Mechanical Bull

What will the Kings do to follow their dumb-arse successes?

Mechanical Bull: a title inviting trouble

I once got quite excited by Kings Of Leon. Way back in 2007 I saw them play at the Astoria, and witnessed a band who appeared to be ready to parlay indie credibility and southern-states rocker charm into a genuinely interesting kind of mainstream success. And the album that followed, Because of the Times, seemed to live up to that, full of widescreen Springsteenian ambition while retaining just enough of the Strokes/Pixies buzziness they started out with.

I once got quite excited by Kings Of Leon. Way back in 2007 I saw them play at the Astoria, and witnessed a band who appeared to be ready to parlay indie credibility and southern-states rocker charm into a genuinely interesting kind of mainstream success. And the album that followed, Because of the Times, seemed to live up to that, full of widescreen Springsteenian ambition while retaining just enough of the Strokes/Pixies buzziness they started out with.

Then in 2008 came “Sex is on Fire” and “Use Somebody” – two of the most annoying songs of all time, so perfectly designed for absolute cretins to bellow along to that their success was guaranteed but which made any sense that the band were anything more than hacks quickly disspate. Fair enough, though, who could begrudge them the success they so clearly wanted? Even they seem embarrassed by this phase, though, because this new album is a dramatic return to the sound of Because...

There are none of those dumb money-shot choruses here, everything is back to the cinematic sweep and questing drive of the younger KoL. Whether it's the surprisingly funky blues of “Family Tree” or the Killers-like builder “Coming Back Again”, it's all about structures that build and grow rather than instant gratification, and it is all the better for it.

It's not all wondrousness; there's a fair bit of dirge here, as well as dreary machismo and at-best-dubious characterisation of women that makes it feel a little jaded, a little mid-life crisis (with some of the band still not out of their 20s!). It's nice, though, to hear a band that seems to realise what they do best and go back to doing it even if that is not the most financially astute decision, and this album has plenty worth living with if not getting hyper-excited about.

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