Kings Of Leon "Come Around Sundown" - Track By Track Review

by - Tuesday, October 19, 2010

1)The End
I suppose they think they’re being really witty calling their album opener “the end”? However, I shall overlook this naff irony as actually, it’s not a bad song. Governed by a brooding baseline and expansive guitars that bring about visions of open American roads and palm trees (which is quite apt really, considering the cover art) it sets what I hope will be a good benchmark for the rest of the album. Don’t really believe Caleb Followill’s lyrical whines that he “hasn’t got a home” though. The man is surely rolling in cash.
Ah, the single. It’s an obvious standout from the off, yet again dominated by Jared Followill’s bass skills. I’m beginning to wonder if he is all the talent in this band. With a pretty euphoric chorus and gospel choir backing vocals, its pretty hard to not find yourself clapping along, screaming about how “IT’S IN THE WATERRRRRR” (I shan’t mention the video). I’m sure it could have been a standout hit of the summer. However, they were silly enough to release it mid autumn. Amateurs.
Probably my standout track from the album, Pyro is a stadium anthem in the waiting. It trucks along quite nicely (albeit slowly) before blasting into a positively huge chorus, Caleb’s southern howl adding the Kings of Leon stamp to proceedings. Probably the nearest in sound to their previous works, I wouldn’t be surprised if this turned out to be the next single release. Not that this would please Caleb, who’ still moaning that “everything I cherish is slowly dying or is gone”. You’d think someone who could write such money making tunes would lighten up, wouldn’t you?
“Come around Sundown’s” token chirpy song takes place under the guise of “Mary”. It’s another potential hit, if only for its summery beats and carefree lyrics about going disco dancing and chatting up girls. It’s hardly believable coming from four men who are heading towards their thirties and are all either married or engaged, but I’ll let them off. To be perfectly honest, it sounds like the sort of stuff McFly could churn out in their sleep, but thumping drums, a guitar solo and the bouncy 50’s tinged melody save it from mainstream mediocrity.
5)The Face
And so we realise that Come around Sundown peaked incredibly early. The nicest thing I have to say about “The Face” is that you only have to put up with it for 3 minutes and 28 seconds. Really, it’s just incredibly boring: it drags along at a sluggish pace, never peaking or indeed, really going anywhere. Initially around the 2.20 mark, I thought it was about to explode into something good- but no. Just more of Caleb’s disaffected howling. Boring.
6)The Immortals
We pick up again slightly for the immortals, but only just. The fact that they’re still singing about open roads and roosters worries me slightly: it seems no progression has been made from some of their earlier works. This is a band that have been a massive success for at least three years and certainly have the opportunity to try something different, yet it is apparent to me that they are well and truly stuck in the creative doldrums. You can take the band out of Tennessee…
7)Back down South
“Back down South” has been heralded by most music press as the highlight of the album, and I might be tempted to agree. It’s one of the only times you can buy into the authenticity of the band as real, southern boys. Ok, the lyrics may be cringe (“come on out and dance/ if you get the chance”, but it does have a certain country charm about it (it has fiddles for goodness sake!).What with my current obsession with folk music, I find myself a little bit in love with it, and i’m sure it’ll be a live favourite.
8)Beach Side
Beach side starts well, a nice little riff that suggests Arcade Fire influences. The gentle tambourine in the background is pleasant, but there is no overwhelming brilliance to be found here. In fact, its easy to forget its even still playing, which, lets face it, is never a good thing in rock music. Still, it is saved in the dying seconds by a lovely dreamy guitar that does indeed conjure up visions of the beach.
9)No Money
I shall overlook the blatant lie of the title to say that this song represents the kings of leon of yore. It has the ferocity the rest of the album lacks, Caleb demanding to be given “something to believe in”. A screeching guitar solo brings back memories of such career highlights as “charmer”, and gives me faith that KOL might still have some fight left in them.
10)Pony Up
More intricate than some of the other tracks, pony up is a twisting, twirling mess of guitars that really shouldn’t work, but somehow does, just about. However, at ten tracks in, just about isn’t really good enough. It does possess a guitar line that might stick in your head, but I for one would struggle to remember any of the lyrics. I fear this is something Kings of Leon are getting lazy with: for the majority of the song, the words are almost totally indecipherable.
The band have heralded this song as the one that “the chicks will love”. Well sorry Followills, but it’s gonna take more than lazy metaphors about birthdays to impress me. A jaunty calypso beat won’t do it either I’m afraid. Lacking in any sense of enthusiasm or even a captivating tune, Birthday may be one of Come around Sundown’s biggest letdowns. Shame really, when the first ten seconds promised so much.
12)Mi Amigo
Track 12 is yet another plodding dullard that only wins brownie points for some pretty slick trumpeting and yet another dirty bassline. By this point, Caleb’s voice is starting to grate: I almost wish he would let someone else sing or at least vary the tone. Deficient of any sort of energy, Mi Amigo is no friend of mine.
13)Pickup Truck
And so we reach the final track. I’m hoping that maybe they would have saved something special for the closer, but I am sadly mistaken. More of the same drab, radio rock that ends before it ever started. “Just so you know I’m thinking of you”, Caleb drawls as the album comes to a close. Well Caleb, you certainly weren’t thinking of your fanbase. A disappointing end to a disappointing album.
My verdict
In interviews, the band have admitted that the majority of the lyrics were adlibbed onto the record, and it was their easiest to make. It shows. More so than anything, it lacks any sense of ambition, effort or even heart: I will admit there are a handful of passably good tracks, but on the whole, I get the impression that this is the sound of a band perfectly content to rest on their laurels and count their cash. I’m sure Come around Sundown will be a commercial hit, but only because the Kings legacy precedes them- thousands will buy it hoping for something of “Sex on Fire” proportions, and i’m sad to say there’s just nothing here that comes close. Maybe, five albums in, the Followill brothers just don’t have anything to say anymore. Or maybe they’ve become distracted by the bright lights and have forgotten the magic that got them here in the first place. Either way, they’re in severe danger of losing their crown. Anticlimax of the year.

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