GENRES: Alternative Rock, Rock and Roll, Soul Rock
TOP TRACKS: Supersoaker, Rock City, Don't Matter, Temple
After a brief hiatus, the modern brothers of soul, Kings of Leon have returned with their sixth studio LP, Mechanical Bull. Kings of Leon are not one of those bands that are judged by their breakout album only, they are the band that's most well known in the commercial world of music for two songs. These being of course "Sex on Fire" and "Use Somebody" from 2008's Only By Night. It's actually really unfortunate because these are two of the most average Kings of Leon songs ever written. Now granted, the band hasn't really been acclaimed for their originality or excellence, they have written some good music in the past.
As a Nashville band of brothers and cousins, Kings of Leon obviously set off in 1999 with a very heavy gospel influence in their music as their songs all seem to have the faintest country twang. Of course it's still rock but there are definitely traceable roots. Because of this and their ability to create incredibly catchy hooks and leads, Kings of Leon have created a HUGE audience for themselves all over the world and they've essentially been able to do that by pumping out essentially the same album each and every time. And it really hasn't changed here that much.
Mechanical Bull utilizes every single overplayed modern rock and roll songwriting custom and cliche and milks it to the maximum. From simple chord progressions to unoriginal guitar solos and unbelievably forced song structure, this is starting to sound like Kings of Leon by the numbers. Sure, Kings of Leon fans will love it and I guess that's point but I get the feeling that too many bands do this nowadays. It should be about the product first and foremost. There are glimpses of greatness and capability on this record which quite honestly make it more infuriating knowing that this band is actually very talented.
I really love the track "Supersoaker". It's definitely my favorite song on the album and even my favorite Kings of Leon track ever. The melody is so amazing and the chorus is a nice emotional release. Also, the bass part really carries this song almost like a lead. I notice that as a pattern in Kings of Leon's music sometimes. For example on, "Temple" the bass really filled out the track even though there are two guitar players in Kings of Leon. I also loved that track.
In addition there are two tracks where Kings of Leon stretch the hybrid style of their music to the extreme polar opposites. These of course being "Rock City" and "Don't Matter". The first of which is more twangy and honky-tonk. Not necessarily country but their hometown of Nashville definitely shows up as a musical influence here. This venture was well done and so was "Don't Matter" which is a rock power anthem that embraces the cathartic feeling of just rocking the hell out. Something that Kings of Leon don't do often. I liked the slight variety here because even though it was different it was still Kings of Leon and had that feel that they have worked hard to establish over the years.
But still, the glaring problem as it has been for quite some time with Kings of Leon is that for every great/original song they release, there is a mediocre one to weigh it out. Thankfully, this isn't that extreme on Mechanical Bull but it's still definitely an issue. For example, the second single on the record "Wait For Me" is a slow love song that very suddenly picks up to this very basic rock section towards the end, not only does this feel really forced but I feel like Kings of Leon are using the most dated elements of rock music in the most unoriginal of ways. I feel that a number of times on the second half of the record as well.
I was really indifferent about most of the tracks on Mechanical Bull but there were not any that I hated with all of my being. I guess that's a bit of a step up. King of Leon are a talented group of musicians who have delivered a pretty decent album this year. I didn't love it, and I didn't hate it but you can be sure that when they get back on tour for their "reunion" they will essentially be printing money from ticket sales.