WELL, I’D GIVEN up on them, too. Once the go-to group for scrappy, adrenalized nu-wave-Southern-rock, Kings Of Leon’s recent ascent to the big-big-time had appeared to coincide with a certain loss of soul.
The stadium-filling bombast and shiny surfaces of Only By The Night (2008) and Come Around Sundown (2010) snagged the kind of crowd you mind find at a Killers show (no offence; we’re just talking demographics here) but were KOL happy? Caleb Followill’s Dallas meltdown in 2011 and reports of his all-hours boozing suggested not.
Supersoaker, the first “seeded” track from September 23 album (their sixth) Mechanical Bull – and now augmented by a zesty, colour-saturated video – sounds like a step towards redemption, flushing out the toxic blah and harking fervently back to the rock’n’roll values of their first two records, Youth And Young Manhood (2003) and Aha Shake Heartbreak (2004), records that made brother Caleb’s reflections on fleeting affairs, party fallout and crotch itch seem agreeably small and even slightly sad-eyed.
With their inflation a kind of po-facedness set in that’s gleefully countervailed here. Caleb laughs, smiles, sings his ass off and the whole presentation walks the line between sexy and sexist (that milk-spilling scene at the start is a tad unnecessary) in typically macho/melancholy KOL style.
Promising more great things from Mechanical Bull, another new track emerged 48 hours ago. Wait For Me trades long on that clipped-but-echoey Cars guitar sound and combines catchiness with wistful humility.
Kings Of Leon are back doing what they do best. Can we like them again now, please?