New Kings of Leon album has unique sound, good composition

Come Around Sundown

Pitchforks: 3.5 out of 5

Artist: Kings of Leon

Label: RCA

In certain circles around the Valley, there seems to be a growing disdain for Kings of Leon. A rather unfortunate development, as Kings of Leon have long been a particular favorite of mine. In 2003 I saw the band open for The Strokes in Grand Prairie, Texas. Since then, I’ve seen it in Mesa, Las Vegas — I even met band members in Seattle. Each of its albums has been unique and well crafted, and as of Tuesday, its fifth studio album “Come Around Sundown” is available and does not disappoint.

For fellow fans, the album will be easy to get behind. Be it consciously or not, Kings of Leon knows almost — if not completely — what kind of band it wants to be and what kind of sound it wants to make. As a fellow fan once said to me, “they are so much happier now.” And I would tend to agree with her, but I also think that there is a bit more to it than that. I think the band members are smarter now too. I think they understand their strengths and how best to use them, both in the studio and live.

Distracters will claim that they have sold out. In “Day Old Blues,” lead-singer Caleb Followill sings, “Silly expectations of a dream/Girls are gonna love the way I toss my hair/Boys are gonna hate the way I sing,” as if noting the sudden bandwagon jump so many people would make from one side of the fence to the other after their album “Only by the Night.”

Not to worry, for those who have been enjoying Kings of Leon, and even for those who have not a clue, “Come Around Sundown” is a great album. The band is nearing its stride. In the unique and exploratory catalogue of music that Kings of Leon have provided, “Come Around Sundown” yet again showcases the band’s ability to weave deeply personal storytelling along a vibrant backdrop of music.

Since its second album, Kings of Leon has had great song selections and subsequent placement of songs for its albums, especially its opening tracks. “Come Around Sundown” opens with an eerie declaration and compelling alternative with “The End.” As a listener, one cannot help but wonder if the ending being described is good or bad. Is it a release, or an escape? However you take it, the hook is present for you to bite on the rest album.

By the time you come to the fourth track “Mary,” be you a fan already or not, you soon will be. “Mary” is perfectly packaged. Once opened, you will want to return to it over and over again. Lyrically it rivals even the band’s best. It beats a number of other great songs too. It is a proud, electric-guitar driven romp through young infatuation.

Feeling homesick, “Back Down South” proves that Kings of Leon can still move you with a slow melody just as well as it can rock you into a frenzy, which is exactly what it will do with “No Money,” a fast rip through the life of a man completely unsatisfied, yet determined to have the last laugh.

As for those who are not fans, I hope that you will reconsider. Kings of Leon has found the perfect balance between the uniqueness of its sound, which has allowed it to stand apart from all the rest, and healthy musical composition. “Come Around Sundown” is another perfect example of this.

Should you end up purchasing this album, I do have one recommendation. As soon as you buy it, go for a drive.

Reach the reporter at jbfortne@asu.edu

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