Enough of this (Mechanical) Bull about Kings of Leon breaking up and lead singer Caleb Followill going to rehab after they cancelled a tour following his drunken rant during a 2011 concert in Dallas. The KoL family are right back where they want to be: sitting high atop the very same throne that Kanye and Jay-Z could only watch. After taking a brief hiatus to get married to supermodels and raise little southern belles, the Nashville brothers and cousin are back with their sixth studio album, Mechanical Bull.
Kings of Leon have come a long way, for better or worse, from the whiskey drinking, cocaine snorting, rock-stars that found themselves soft when the groupies went back down south. Sure, they’re still singing about drugs and women in “Rock City” (“I was running thought the desert looking for drugs, and I was searching for a woman who was willing to love”) and getting day drunk in “On the Chin” (“Said make yourself at home so I started day drinking”), but early fans could consider these songs weak compared to “Spiral Staircase” and “Velvet Snow”. Still, the album ranges from badass tunes like single “Supersoaker” and “Don’t Matter” that could have easily been on 2003’s Youth & Young Manhood or 2004’s follow-up Aha Shake Heartbreak to “Beautiful War” and “Tonight” which would’ve fit nicely between “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” on 2008’s blockbuster Only by the Night.
If you were hoping that the Followill’s would show a sign of maturing in their new album, look no further than “Wait for Me” and bonus track “Work on Me”. With guitar riffs mirroring indie rock band Real Estate and lyrics matching that of U2, Kings of Leon have seemed to find a real comfort zone.
While the album’s ups undoubtedly outweigh the downs, trust me, there are downs. If someone could explain to me how a band deemed the southern Strokes and have been given unlimited credit in the revival of rock could come out with “Family Tree” and think that it was okay to do. They pushed the envelope with “Charmer” on 2007’s Because of the Times and it paid off, but “Family Tree” not only ripped off their own “Crawl”, it tries to convince you to sing along to lyrics that we all could have written in our sleep, or in Caleb’s case, blackout drunk (“I am your family tree, I know you’re A-Z, this is a secret proposition lay your hands on me”).
Whether it’s a comeback story of a lifetime or not, Kings of Leon are definitely back healthy, and ready to rock. If you’re looking for an easy way to get into Mechanical Bull, check out these key tracks: “Supersoaker”, “Rock City”, “Beautiful War”, “Wait for Me”. The band is set for the Global Citizen Festival gig in Central Park this Saturday with a tour for sure to follow on home soil.
– Gregory Crotty