The Kings Are Back to Claim Their Thrones.
Nashville, Tennessee band Kings of Leon grow out their southern rock roots in 6th album Mechanical Bull. By Lara El Sergany
Where has this band been in the past three years? Exactly ten years after their first album “Youth and Young Manhood” brought them into Rock royalty, Kings of Leon sat down to write a musical trip back to their southern roots with their much-awaited sixth album “Mechanical Bull”, after a three-year hiatus following the release of their fifth album “Come Around Sundown”.
Whereas “Come Around Sundown” was a somewhat safer, more polished turn to Kings of Leon’s more fired up older tunes, Mechanical Bull is a big middle finger to conformity and mainstream music as the band brought back the claps, the hoots, and Caleb Followill’s raw vocals with a bang.
The rekindled fire of “old” Kings of Leon burns straight off “Supersoaker”, the new single and first track on the album, as relentless drumming and fast strumming are followed by Caleb Followill’s rupturing vocals as he shouts “I don’t mind/ sentimental girls at times” down the microphone. Good news for the sentimental Kings of Leon fans out there.
The band takes it home to Nashville, Tennessee in “Rock City” with the group claps, the multiple whoops throughout the song, and the old school, southern-sounding guitar riffs. The rhythm picks up again pretty fast with Caleb’s count off and shouts in the first few seconds of “Don’t Matter”, with its fast, hard hitting tempo resembling “Four Kicks”, the second single taken from the Kings’ 2004 album “Aha Shake Heartbreak”.
As opposed to the 2008 single “Sex on Fire”, which was all about physical passion, “Beautiful War” focuses on the emotional struggles of being madly in love; the slow rhythm and honest lyrics sung in the lead’s raw voice highly goose-bump infusing.
The streak of brilliantly composed songs (both lyrically and musically) continues with the faster, yet equally moving “Temple”, and the pain-infused “Wait for me”. Both songs show sacrifice for a bigger love in their lyrics “I’ll take one in the temple/ I’ll take one for you” and “ Take a shot in the rain/ One for the pain.”
Speaking of lyrics, the boys reach a mind blowing realization in the warm, superb song “Come Back Story” with the chorus “I walked a mile in your shoes/ Now I’m a mile away /and I’ve got your shoes.”
Another story of comebacks is impeccably told in the melodically rich “Coming back again”, with smooth, whiney guitar chords and a whole lot of “Oh-woahs” belted out in the chorus.
The 7th track on the album, “Family Tree”, takes a sudden funky turn, with a whole lot of repetitive, Blues-y bass and rhythmic vocals that has you double checking whether you’re still listening to the Kings of Leon’s new album. Although it veered off the general mood that “Mechanical Bull” was going with, you can’t help but love its handclaps and jazzy vibe.
Caleb puts his scratchy, melancholy-drenched vocals to good use in “Tonight”, which has a chorus quite similar to Come Around Sundown’s “Immortals”. You can especially hear the passion in his voice in the repeated lines “It’s coming on/ It’s coming on.”
Closing track “On the Chin” , with its wistfully country vibe that leaves the listener with a warm, comforting feeling in the pit of his/her stomach, is the perfect ending to the incredible ride that was “Mechanical Bull”.
Now it’s your turn. Put on your headphones, press play, and let the music take you on a road trip back down south to rock city.