Music Review: Kings of Leon & Only by the Night

by Vincent Lee

The Kings of Leon have rapidly, and rightfully become one of the most acclaimed bands in the past five years. Only one year removed from the release of the successful Because of the Times (a number one hit in the U.K., which hit #25 on the U.S. charts), they have released another new album Only by the Night. On this record it appears they have moved forward once again.

On Only by the Night the Kings of Leon never do too much. More or less every song is basic and short. Both lyrically and musically they do not over-extend themselves. Whereas some bands attempt to write a masterpiece and subsequently create a bloated piece of pretentious crap, Kings of Leon simply further refine their technique and construct a very strong album in the process.

Lead singer Caleb Followill molds his songs in a very simple manner. Each song has a specific hook or catchy line, which is built upon as the song grows. By writing this way Followill creates very catchy songs with depth. Musically, the songs develop similarly. “Closer,” the opening track and one of the best songs on the album, is a perfect model of this. From song to song, the album transitions exceptionally. There are no weak or blank songs that feel out of place. This record also sees a return to their Southern rock roots (the band is from Tennessee) that was not as present on Because of the Times.

With this release, Kings of Leon have created one of the best albums of the year. They sound as energetic as ever on this consistent album with no true weaknesses. Fans of rock and music in general should really enjoy this. Previous fans of the band will undoubtedly enjoy it as well. By not taking themselves so seriously and keeping things simple, Kings of Leon on Only by the Night come out as something truly special.

(The promotional photo shows Kings of Leon performing live in Brixton, U.K. in 2005; the photo is from RCA Records. The band will perform tonight, Sept. 23, in New York City at Webster Hall and also make an appearance on The Late Show with David Letterman on CBS, as part of a tour of the U.S. and Europe. To see Kings of Leon perform "Use Somebody" from Only by the Night, on the BBC, please check below.)

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