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Kings of Leon -- Only by the Night

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A little over a week ago I described the fact that I hadn’t listened to a lot of new music lately and decided to do something about it by purchasing four recent releases by newer bands and give them multiple listens and then review them here on this blog. Besides exposing myself to newer music, the hope was to find a new favorite band -- or at least a band to get excited about. My first review was of The Walkmen's You & Me which I found lacking to say the least. Second up was We Started Nothing by the Ting Tings, which was better than the Walkmen, had a couple of great songs, but in the end it was clear that the Ting Tings were not going to my next favorite band.

Next up is Kings of Leon and their new album Only by the Night. When their new album came out this fall there was a lot of indie chatter about this band. Their previous albums were definitely in the buzz bin and great things were expected. The single Sex on Fire was burning up the “alternative? and “college radio? charts and in heavy rotation on some stations. However, doing some research on the album, I found that the album has been a big disappointment to old fans. A reaction I both understand and think is a little too critical.

First, this album is good but it isn’t great. KOL has spent that last year in bigger arenas (sometimes supporting U2) and it shows. This album has that “big? sound that could easily fit a 18,000 seat arena and the second song, Crawl, sounds like it could be an outtake from Actung Baby. Caleb Followill’s voice is a kind of craggy moan that could easily be classified as Eddie Veddar-esque. With Only by the Night KOL has honed it’s rock bona-fides.

Read the reviews (like here and here), and the reaction is that Only by the Night isn’t as good as previous efforts and that it loses a lot of steam over the last half of the album. I for one didn’t think the album generated a lot of steam for it to lose and actually liked the last few songs better than beginning. Be Somebody and Cold Desert are actually catchy tunes and I found myself humming the refrains after listening to the album. Neither are huge rockers and maybe not classic outro songs, but decent nonetheless.

In the end Only by the Night is a bit of a let down. It’s decent but I found myself wanting to rock out more than it allowed. There’s some cool ideas musically going on however, and I may want to check out some of their earlier albums to see what all the fuss was about. I may come back to the album from time to time but it probably won’t be on heavy rotation. As I said above a good but not great album. What do you think of Kings of Leon? Is Only by the Night a good album or a disappointment?

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