Kings of Leon
Only by the Night


Kings of Leon once promised to be the Allman Brothers of their generation, said Chris Mincher in The Onion. They brush off that tag on their fourth album. For the past five years, the Nashville band has made music that evokes the rowdiest days of Southern rock—all swaddled in the reverb, snarling riffs, and raucous ho oks of garage rock. On Only by the Night, Kings of Leon have decided to leave Tennessee behind, trading in their sound’s signatures for “swirls of prog-rock, burst of post-punk,” and trippy atmospherics. The band clearly has grand aspirations of global rock-stardom, said Nate Chinen in The New York Times. Kings of Leon “flaunt those intentions, with echoing guitars, thunderous drums, and lyrics that grasp at significance.” But this isn’t “natural territory” for these good ol’ boys, and the songs often come off measured, mid-tempo, and disappointingly characterless. “Use Somebody” feels like an ’80s power ballad and “Cold Desert” is bland and barren of life. Kings of Leon will bounce back from this misstep, said Garry Mulholland in the London Observer. Their precocious international success and vaulting ambition suggest that, sooner or later, they’ll become the “stadium rock band of their dreams.”