Favourites: Over, WALLS, Muchacho, Reverend
I’ve been listening to Kings of Leon ever since my Dad bought “Aha Shake Heartbreak”. We used to listen to it constantly in the car, and that became one of my favourite albums growing up. I’ve been a fan of KoL ever since, although I wasn’t the biggest fan of “Mechanical Bull”, this new album seems to have a more eccentric approach to it, where as Mechanical Bull was a bit too safe. The singles on WALLS (or We Are Like Love Songs) “Waste a Moment”, “Reverend”, and “Walls” have a very circa Because of the Times vibe to them, with Caleb getting a bit more passionate and dirty with his vocals, Nathan adding more flavour and finesse into his drums, and the overall production of these songs seemed a lot more thought out than Kings of Leon’s previous effort. The album starts off with 3 upbeat and classic KoL sounding songs, which was cool to hear considering all of the members are family men now and must have different views than their coked out adolescence, it’s certainly not as gritty as the stuff you’d hear in “Youth and Young Manhood” or “Aha Shake Heartbreak”, but like all artists, we grow and change over time. The song “Over” grabbed my attention immediately, I love the rolling groove Nathan lays down on this track, feels a lot like the songs on Because of the Times, (i.e. Camaro, Fans, Knocked Up), and Caleb’s raspy vocals at the end of this track were a breath of fresh air.
The cool thing about WALLS is that every song gives off a different mood, almost as if they decided to combine the sounds of all of their previous work and wrote this album with all of those sounds mixed together. “Muchacho” has that dreamy southern vibe, reminiscent of the “Come Around Sundown” era, and features fantastic guitar work from Matthew. I couldn’t get into Conversation Piece….its alright I guess, just felt uninspired. In a recent interview, they were talking about how with a new producer on this album, they did change-up most of the songs on WALLS than what they were originally supposed to sound like; the producer Markus Dravs had a lot of input on this album. “Waste a Moment” was originally going to be a slow tempo song, but Markus insisted they pick up the pace to make it sound like a Sex Pistols song. I think they work well together, because the songs definitely capture the essence of Caleb’s storytelling, especially in my favourite track on this record, the title track “WALLS”. The song starts off with a heartbeat-sounding rhythm, that goes on throughout the entire track as Caleb pours his heart out discussing heartbreak and sorrow, using “when the walls come down” as a metaphor for his relationship breaking down, and ending. The video captures this mood perfectly, and is worth checking out: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BdF41Ne2cnQ
Overall I think this album is a step up for Kings of Leon, and i’m glad they are taking this new approach to their music after having 7 albums out now, its hard to stay original and fresh after being relevant for this long, and I think them deciding to go with a new producer really helped them create a fresh sounding album, without diminishing their classic southern boy roots.