Thursday, November 11, 2010

CD Review: Kings of Leon - Come Around Sundown

Based on the album cover and the level of rocking on this album, the title could be Jack Johnson's Blue Ridge Mountain Vacation. I get it. KOL has matured, not sold out. I'm not going down the path that many fans do with bands they have loved from the first or second album start to have commercial success. However, you cannot listen to this album next to Aha Shake Heartbreak or Young and Young Manhood and not tell a significant difference.

There was a lot of complaining coming from the Followill boys 6 months after their last release, Only By the Night. They were offended by Soccer Moms throwing their spanks on stage and frat boys who only stood up for Sex on Fire during their concerts. I personally like hot moms, but I get it. They are 25 year olds and date models while eating oysters in New York meatpacking district. Because of their discontentment with their growing fan base, I thought their next album would be a little more "garage" sounding and Caleb's vocals would be a little more raw. Maybe they don't mind their current scene as much as they protest.

I don't want this review to spin out of control. I do like Come Around Sundown. I like it the more I listen to it and I keep wanting to listen to it. I may have listened to it every day for the last couple of weeks. There are several of songs that standout and overall, the album is very listenable and enjoyable. No Money even rocks a bit. The lead single, Radioactive and Pyro are very good mid-tempo rockers. Mi Amigo even tips its hat at the down south naughtiness of Soft and Trani from the aforementioned "early" KOL albums. There just isn't anything there that makes me have a passion for it.

I have noodled about this dilema for quite a bit. I don't think my lack of enthusism for this record has to do with the toned down sound or the polished vocals. I finally figured out that I don't feel the passion from the songs that were so evident on their earlier efforts. I thought about what I really like in a song. Why do I consider songs like Everlong by Foo Fighters or Jesus of Suburbia by Green Day among my favorite songs or all time? Is it the style? Not specificially. Is it how cute the singer is? Rarely. (But Dave Grohl - rowwl!) I have concluded that these are my top five reasons for liking a song:

5. Song makes my feel sexy

4. It has a beat that makes my body move involuntarily

3. Clever lyrics that either make me smile or think

2. Being able to feel the artists' passion

1. Touches my soul (hard to quantify)

I think many of those tend to blend together, but that would the Big Sexy Institute of Music and Harmony Orientation. BS, IMHO for you internet nerds.

I've never seen a KOL concert and they have painted an unsavory picture as described above. But I have seen them perform live through the miracles of modern technology and they look boorrring. I very much like their music. Maybe that vision of seeing them singing every song while standing at their microphones without a change in facial expression has influenced my opinion of not feeling their passion in their music. I think that is what I am missing in Come Around Sundown. It is a very good album all the way through, that I will enjoy now. But will I be passionate about for the years to come?

I'll give Come Around Sundown 4 flip flops out of five.

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