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Albums Reviews

Kings of Leon

Only by the Night
RCA
[Three and a half stars]

rsiwebadmin Nov 08, 2008
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After the rough and tumble glory of their first two efforts, the Kings of Leon’s Because of the Times surprised a lot of people last year. Crammed full of long jams, messy brawls and cynical pining, it was an inspired leap forward for the brothers from Tennessee, lending their charming roughness the right doses of refinement and accessibility. If nothing else, Only by the Night keeps them at least on that same high plateau; the haunting ”˜Closer’ starting things off just like it was something that accidentally got left off of BOTT. Next, on Crawl’, ”˜Madchester’ meets ”˜Whole Lotta Love’ with a short, brilliantly destructive solo thrown in at the end. After the third track (”˜Sex On Fire’, which revisits some of the bare downheartedness of their earlier sound) the band lose their way in humdrum generic indie pop-rock a few times (”˜Use Somebody’, ”˜Be Somebody’ and ”˜Cold Desert’, though the last does contribute the enduring, plaintive refrain “Jesus don’t love me/No one ever carried my load/I’m too young to feel this old”). But there’s always something raucous (”˜Notion’,) delectably bedraggled (”˜Manhattan’, the TV on the Radio funk of ”˜Revelry’) or just plain new (like ”˜17’ and the sparse ”˜I Want You’, with its Aha Shake Heartbreak-meets-reggae vibe) waiting around the corner, that makes you want to crank it up and bounce off the walls. It’s not a weak record by miles, but there’s little doubt that the Kings will recapture more of the thoughtfulness that went into no. 3 if they take a longer break before putting anything else on tape.

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