Album review: Kings of Leon - Mechanical Bullby Alice O'Donkor
at Birmingham City University 11th November 2013 13:35:36
As the Followill family collective approach their 13th year, you could say that they are entering a phase of manhood as a band.
Brothers Nathan, Caleb, Jared, and their first-cousin Matt, have been quaking the world with their unique brand of alt/dixie/garage rock since the commercial success of their third album Because of the Times in 2007, which put them on the map. However, it was the year of 2008 that all kicked into gear for the Tennessee-quartet with the release Only By The Night and mild rock anthems ‘Sex On Fire’, and ‘Use Somebody’ that effectually propelled Kings of Leon to worldwide recognition.
Lauded for their rugged and ready style, the lads bring the heat once again with their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull. You can always rely on Kings of Leon to serve a winning concoction of magnetic narratives held together by stupendous guitar riffs to grab our attention, a sturdy drum to hold us in, and woeful but effortless vocals from frontman Caleb.
The album jumps to a start with the hit single ‘Supersoaker’, a blues number which has been absolutely drenched with their signature, rock n’ roll sound. This statement rings true for the majority of the album, however, the overall sound is less gritty in comparison to their early day vibe heard in likes of ‘Charmer’ and popular car sing-a-long ‘McFearless’.
‘Rock City’ will transport you to a dingy but somewhat enchanting bar in Nashville, leant over a tumbler of straight Jack Daniels. The family band of rockers show us that they are still very much in touch with their Southern roots and what’s more, they succeed in making country cool which many would argue, is not an easy feat.
Towards the middle section of the album, it all begins to veer towards the middle of the lane. ‘Beautiful War’ is an über-easy track and you can almost feel yourself falling asleep with a cup of tea in your hands and a digestive biscuit hanging out of your mouth. At this point, Scouting for Girls and perhaps even Maroon 5 may drift into mind as ‘Temple’ reinforces the power in a catchy chorus, safe verses and the perfect number of oohs.
Once again we find ourselves in the country road for ‘Family Tree’, one with a heavy bass and grand clap section that is bound to get the crowds up and singing at their upcoming North American tour (and hopefully a European one to follow soon after.)
The record remains relatively calm through to the end and those waiting for that big ‘bang’ may be left disappointed.
In some ways, Mechanical Bull makes for something of the musical mirror image of their last offering Come Around Sundown back in 2010, which features more of a hard rock feel with indie undercurrents and some serious guitar-shredding heard in summer smash ‘Radioactive’. It is however, a celebration of the boys’ success to date with homage to their Tennessee roots, in which it may appear that they grow up before our very ears.