Since the release of Only By The Night, it feels as though the last eight years have been a period of identity crisis for the Kings of Leon. Releasing two albums of neither here nor there hits in Come Around Sundown and Mechanical Bull, the Nashville foursome seem to be perpetually searching for who they are and what they want to be. But with the release of WALLS it feels as though the might have finally figured it out.
Keeping with the infectious stadium rock that propelled them to stardom, whilst calling back to the youthful sound of their early days, WALLS is the best Kings of Leon have had to offer since the melt down of 2011. Granted it’s no masterpiece, but certainly it offers a deviation into the experimental.
‘Waste A Moment’ offers a retrospective look back to the sounds of ‘Sex on Fire’, with a bruising chorus and driving verse spinning out into an anthemic rock track that sets the tone for the rest of the LP.
Elsewhere, and falling into a similar realm that The Killers occupy, throughout there are the echoes of Bruce Springsteen like storytelling. ‘Reverend’ sways whilst ‘Around The World’ jolts its way through a staccato guitar, but it’s on ‘Find Me’ and ‘Muchacho’ that Followill’s swirling lyricism and knack for narrative comes to light.
‘Over’ is akin to the deep voiced grumble of Nick Cave before falling into a nothing chorus, repeating ‘Don’t say its over/Don’t say its over anymore’ for the duration, whilst ‘Eyes On You’ showcases just what KOL can manage when they turn up. One of the better songs on the album, ‘Eyes On You’ is old school Kings Of Leon, all bumping rock and fuzzy guitars.
But beyond all that heavy southern rhinestone rock is really where the album comes into its own. Signing off with ‘WALLS’, Followill sings away the LP with aching balladry. And just as he did with ‘Wait for Me’ on Mechanical Bull and ‘Cold Desert’ on Only By The Night, the fresh take on a worn town genre is restored through some pretty raw emotion.
It’s true too. The Kings Of Leon have never been afraid of being honest. When they are, when they truly sing from the heart, and play tracks that truly feel like their own, that’s when they work best. It’s not heart stopping for sure, but WALLS feels like a clean slate for the Tennessee foursome.
– By Emily Harrison, Music Editor