Kings of Leon go “Back Down South” with new album

Anthony Scianna, Content Editor

“Come Around Sundown”, released on October 15th, is the fifth studio album by the alternative rock band the Kings of Leon.  It is also the follow up to the mega hit album “Only by the Night”, which went platinum and was nominated for a Grammy for Album of the Year. “Only by the Night” got the band mainstream success, which was highlighted by playing at the Lollapalooza music festival in 2009 and the Bonarroo music festival in 2010.

After releasing three albums that weren’t extremely successful, the Kings of Leon changed their style a little bit. They cleaned up their look and their sound. In previous albums the band had more of a gritty southern rock sound, but on “Only by the Night” they had a much cleaner, mainstream sound with lead singer Caleb Followill singing more clearly and writing more complex lyrics. The results didn’t appear to be better than their previous albums, but the success of the first two singles put the album and the band on the map.

The band took full advantage of the success, performing everywhere from the Grammy awards to Saturday Night Live. But the album didn’t sit well with the diehard Kings of Leon fans who were concerned that the new success would lead to the band keeping the sound that made them famous. But in the aftermath of the album’s success, the band, especially lead singer and main writer Caleb Followill, expressed disappointment in the album and its success. He didn’t like the newfound fame and fans that only knew the band because of their mega hit “Use Somebody” and decided they had to go back to their roots on the next album. That certainly excited all Kings of Leon fans, and although it took longer than usual to make, “Come Around Sundown” did not disappoint.

As evident from the title and album cover, “Come Around Sundown” is an album that really shows the relaxed personality of the band. It’s clear that the band has found their sound as they are able to mix the southern rock sound of the past with the catchy hooks and choruses that made “Only by the Night” a success. Caleb’s voice got a little more personality back in it, but it’s nothing like it was on the band’s debut album “Youth and Young Manhood”.

The first single to the album, “Radioactive”, is a perfect example of the new found sound of the band. The intro and verses sound like something off their sophomore album “Aha Shake Heartbreak”, but the chorus has the same catchy arena sound “Use Somebody” was successful for. Although it is the first single, it’s not the strongest song on the album. The two songs that follow “Radioactive”, “Pyro” and “Mary”, are stronger songs that sound like they could have been on “Youth and Young Manhood” or “Aha Shake Heartbreak”.

“Pyro” is a soft song similar to “Knocked Up” off of 2007’s “Because of the Times” or “Milk” off of “Aha Shake Heartbreak”. The verses start soft and build into the chorus which coasts at a soft effective sound. The chorus also has a similar arena sound to “Radioactive” but with a slower and softer pace. The soft sound of the song matches the lyrics as it tells the sad story of a man about to burn everything around him.

“Pyro” is followed up by “Mary”, the Kings of Leon’s version of a 1950’s doo wop song. There’s harmony during the intro and Caleb kicks in during the verses with lyrics that sound like they were written in the ‘50s. But the band also puts their own spin on it with a very modern twist on the sound musically. The guitars have more grit than they would in the 1950’s, and the solo has a southern rock twist on it. The song is one of the more interesting on the album, and immediately brings the listener in because of the doo wop harmony in the intro.

The band also plays to their roots in the laid back country track “Back Down South”. This song will immediately make fans think of previous country guided songs like “Fans” and “Talihina Sky”. But “Back Down South” might be even better than the two tracks, with simple lyrics and more focus on the country sound with the normal Kings of Leon southern rock guitar blending together in the background instead of emerging midway through the track.

There are many other solid tracks on “Come Around Sundown” so when the entire album is listened to all the songs start to blend together and represent one solid sound for 47 minutes. None of the songs stick out in the second half of the album like “Radioactive” and “Mary”, but are still enjoyable as a whole. “Come Around Sundown” is a perfect follow up to “Only by the Night” because it tells the fans that they aren’t abandoning their old sound, but developing it with the popular sound to make a perfect combination. It’s not as good as “Aha Shake Heartbreak” or as southern as “Youth and Young Manhood”, but it’s not as mainstream and unusual as “Only by the Night” either. It’s the in between that should satisfy most, if not all Kings of Leon fans.