After wearing themselves out with constant touring and recording in 2010-2011, resulting in the cancellation of shows and a hiatus, Kings of Leon are back with their sixth album, Mechanical Bull. The time off seems to have agreed with them, as the resulting album puts up a noble fight to be considered one of the better albums in their catalogue.
The Tennessee quartet seem to have gone back to basics, true to their old style which earned them a very distinct and passionate fan base. After dealing with accusations of ‘selling out’ by a lot of these fans after the huge commercial success of 2008’s Only By The Night, the boys have produced a more mature and developed version of their 2003-2007 sound.
Shedding the pressure which followed the release of their last album, Kings of Leon appear to have found their mojo and sound like they love what they’re doing. A notable point of the album is the general vibe of contentment, as lead singer Caleb sounds more relaxed and carefree than in its predecessor Come Around Sundown.
The boys are proud of this album, and rightfully so. Drummer Nathan Followill said of Mechanical Bull: “I call this one our unofficial greatest hits, because it has a couple songs that will appeal to fans of every Kings of Leon album: If you’re a Youth & Young Manhood fan, you’re gonna love ‘Family Tree,’ because it’s funky and dirty and nasty. If you’re into A-ha Shake Heartbreak, you’re gonna love ‘Supersoaker.’”
As a fan of both of these albums, I have to agree with Nathan on this one. There is something for everyone. Old fans will love the unique rawness of Caleb’s voice and the guitar work, whereas newer fans from the Only By The Night and Come Around Sundown era will love the more polished sounds on the slower songs like Beautiful War and Wait For Me.
Mechanical Bull opens with the lead single, Supersoaker, which is probably the best showcase of the band’s return. Familiar rough guitar riffs and Caleb’s wonderfully abrasive voice produce a song which could have come straight off of their iconic 2004 record A-ha Shake Heartbreak, as Nathan suggests.
The next track Rock City takes on a smoother, infectious sound which seems to incorporate both the raw style of early Kings of Leon and the more refined sounds of their later efforts. The ability to incorporate both styles is indicative of the album as a whole, which suggests that the Kings have found a happy medium where they are able to grow and develop as musicians without compromising their original style.
Temple is a wonderful Summer backyard BBQ song, with its relaxed rock vibe that is still fast and cheerful enough to entice some dancing in your seat.
Midway through (on the deluxe 13-track edition) is the funky Family Tree, which boasts a strong, rhythmic guitar riff and catchy chorus.
The standard edition ends with On the Chin, showing off the band’s Nashville roots with a country sounding, mellow, ballad-esque track.
Mechanical Bull is relatively brief, coming in at 42 minutes on the standard edition. Nathan claims that the boys “wanted to make a record that as soon as it’s over, people want to play it again” and THAT they have achieved.
Those lucky enough to get the deluxe edition also get 2 extra tracks Work On Me and Last Mile Home, which extend the playing time to roughly 50 minutes, which still doesn’t seem like enough for such a strong collection, but is successful in keeping the listener interested and waiting for more.
[CBC country=”us” show=”y”][/CBC]
[CBC country=”au” show=”y”][/CBC]