Early Listening: Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown UPDATE

Categories: CD Preview
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There is perhaps no band as celebrated as they are reviled these days than Tennessee rockers Kings Of Leon. Always the lightning rod of controversy, Kings Of Leon broke new ground with their commercially viable 2008 release Only By The Night. That album brought the band a Grammy for the song "Sex on Fire," the not-so-subtle epitome of a band selling out.

October 19 marks the release of the band's 5th album, Come Around Sundown. However, this didn't stop the album from hitting the internet this past weekend. While I originally panned the idea of actually listening to the album, I sucked it up and gave Come Around Sundown a shot. The results were disheartening, to say the least, for someone who used to be a pretty big fan of the band.
I mention my former appreciation for the band to highlight the fact that I once loved their music. Youth and Young Manhood was a revelation when it was released in 2003, and Aha Shake Heartbreak -- what many consider to be the band's best effort -- was an impressive follow-up in 2004. I am one of the few that thinks that 2007's  Because of the Times to be their best work, even though it was critically panned. 

2004 seems like decades ago for Kings Of Leon.

Come Around Sundown sees the band yet again working with producers Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King, the creative force behind bringing the band out of their indie rock "drudgery" and into the iPods of Twilight-loving tweens across the country (ahem, "Sex on Fire"). There's nothing wrong with that demographic -- hell, they are the ones who actually still go out and buy albums -- but this same demographic never made headlines for their amazing taste in music, fashion, literature, etc.

At any rate, by the time I got to the 8th track on Sundown, "Beach Side," I couldn't help but exclaim, "what the hell happened to this band?" This album is so tame -- so safe -- that it its disappointment is rooted in its flailing ambition -- or perhaps lack thereof. The mellow vibe throughout the album makes me long for the Young Manhood days when the Followills all had ridiculous amounts of hair, fantastic moustaches and the thought of starting a clothing line would have been seen as preposterous. Sundown sounds like a calculated business decision -- as if the band recorded the album with a banner reading "Play it safe, boys" adorning the studio wall. 

Album opener "The End" relies on a catchy bass line and a sprawling chorus, complete with Caleb Followill repeatedly declaring, "This could be the end." I find it hard not to listen and wonder if he's being serious -- if he's warning everybody that Sundown could be the final album for the band.

If that's the case, then you can find me listening to Youth and Young Manhood, weeping while I struggle to wonder how it all came to this.

Come Around Sundown is out 10/19 via RCA.

UPDATE: Discographies on Twitter has offered their take on the career of Kings of Leon. I couldn't have said it better myself.
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13 comments
jac
jac

Yes, the first two albums were fantastic...but I don't want to hear it on every other album they produce. Geez, can't a band frickin' elvove. If I hear one more person say "I've liked kol since the beginning and now they are corporate sell outs", I'm going to f'ing scream. Just like pearl jam, nirvana, led zepplin and all the other classic first albums...right? Yea, and U2's Boy is a better album than Joshua Tree (Give me a f'ing break). HEY, IT'S OKAY TO SAY YOU LIKE A BAND THAT IS NOW POPULAR AMONG THE MASSES.

Eric
Eric

I actually have to agree with Michael on this. The last album, with the exception of a few songs was pretty crappy. They seem to be flying the corporate kite right now. I'm kind of surprised that they have gone this route, since they are good friends with Pearl Jam and Eddie Vedder. They really helped get them gain a larger audience by taking them out on the road from 2006-2008. Eddie is shaking his head right now. I'll give the new album a fair listen, but I do think they lost whatever they originally had.

Josh Grandlienard
Josh Grandlienard

I personally loved their first three albums since you could really hear the southern rock influence and energy, yet their two newest albums have been quite the disappointment for that part of the fan group. If you're one of those people that like hearing songs about how you need someone then i bet you'll love this, but if your one of the fans that would rather have some energy then I would say move on before you're disappointed again.

Joe
Joe

Yeah, because mellow music is just so lame. Everything needs to stay the same, being young and having cool facial hair makes music better.

girdie
girdie

"Because of the Times" wasn't critically panned. I'm not sure what you are talking about.Go on metacritic, it ranks right up there with the first two. I've listened to this album a couple of times, and I am incredibly disappointed.They've become a soft rock band.

intractv1
intractv1

drag. i used to love them too. i had high hopes for this album because i heard they were going back to their roots... oh, well.

Echred2004
Echred2004

I agree with the first poster bud..

Co
Co

Always funny when people think they have 'amazing taste in music, fashion, literature, etc'..

I like the KoL, I liked them in 2003, and I still love them in 2010! They have grown, and I guess you stopped growing ;) That's fine of course..

Michael Lopez
Michael Lopez

Well-put. They have very much become a soft rock band. All I can think about when I listen to this album is how mellow it is.

Because of the Times got some good reviews and some just okay reviews, as opposed to Aha Shake Heartbreak, which was pretty much all solid reviews. Like I said, Because of the Times is my favorite album of theirs.

Michael Lopez
Michael Lopez

You're right. I have stopped growing and I only listen to music released in the year 2003. Also, I am the only person to boldly say that the last two KoL albums are their worst.

Orourke Emily
Orourke Emily

.. seriously? they've been a consistently amazing band who's been able to stay around. don't knock them because they've become commercially successful and finally recognized by the masses because of their talent.

Michael Lopez
Michael Lopez

I am "knocking them" because they had to seriously water down their sound to become commercially successful. Listen to their first two albums and then listen to Come Around Sundown. It's just not the same band.

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