maandag 27 januari 2014

Mechanical bull. Kings of Leon

Me? Reviewing a Kings of Leon album? Well, that's new. And it is, as I, except for a certain liking for 'Sex on fire' or the ridiculously funny 'Sex met die kale', I was not exactly a Kings of Leon fan. Too flat, too one sided and that voice! Enough to stop me from listening to anything the band put out after the second album. Despite all the rave reviews I saw coming by. So what made me listen to Mechanical bull? Nothing at first, until my brother told me just before Christmas that Mechanical bull and Pearl Jam's 'Lighting bolt' (I'm still contemplating writing here) were much better albums than Arctic Monkeys' 'AM'. So I took him up and decided to listen anyway. And look here, my very first Kings of Leon review ever!

What captured me is the directness of several songs, with the variety of the songs as a good second. The third obstacle, the voice of the singing Followill, all of a sudden didn't bother me as much as before. In some his voice even seems the perfect fit. Not every song totally convinces me, but most do.

Mechanical bull is an album that came after a band lay over for a year, after the crash of singer Caleb Followill. As even I know about it, as non-fan, I won't recap this here. Apparently the band members took some time to listen to other bands. There are so many influences on Mechanical bull, that I did not hear circa 10 years ago when Kings of Leon started its career. There is so much more melody in the songs. Melody that is accentuated by effects instead of walls of sound. Take 'Beautiful war'. The way this song plays out has been done many times over. I won't even name any other band. This Kings of Leon ballad flows soft and sweetly, with guitars left and right laying accents for most of the song. O.k., it spells U2 from 'The Joshua tree' all over. The Edge like guitars end the song. It is the voice of Caleb Followill that makes 'Beautiful war' a Kings of Leon song.

It is tricks like this that made me think, o.k., I have to listen one more time and another and found myself liking Mechanical bull. So by letting in some other influences Kings of Leon captured me, finally. Another example. 'Wait for me' starts with the 'Beds are burning' guitar sound of Midnight Oil. There are loads of guitar overdubs, all played with care and inventiveness. Sometimes just a three second long fill, embellishing 'Wait for me' in all the right places.

Then the best song of the album kicks in: 'Family tree'. Also a familiarly sounding muted guitar line in a blues pattern. Perhaps 'Family tree' is the simplest song on the album, but played in such a great and self-assured way that it rocks from A to Z. With a little gospel added in the almost vocal part, 'Family tree' gets the little extra also. Great song.

Mechanical bull keeps up this high level all the way to the end. In other words, my brother was right. Mechanical bull is a good album. On the brink of rock, alternative and pop. Kings of Leon seems to have found another well to dip its pen in. This results in an album that is varied, poppy with rock influences and rock with pop influences, depending on the song. The rest seems to have done Kings of Leon good.


You can listen to 'Supersoaker' here.

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