Kings of Leon – Only by the Night – Columbia Discs

Declan McKay

There have been big changes in the Kings Of Leon camp since their sparkling debut ‘Holy Rover Novocaine’ exploded onto the scene in the spring of 2003. One of the many garage rock outfits to benefit from the once promising NME sponsored ‘New Rock Revolution’, it appears the Nashville four-piece have shed the last of their rough and ready blues cocoon to emerge as a beautiful mainstream butterfly.

‘Only by the Night’, the latest musical offering from Kings of Leon comes off the back of its highly successful predecessor ‘Because of the Times’ (2006) which debuted at number one in the U.K and Ireland respectively, a factor which has undoubtedly influenced the cleaner, sexier and more sellable sound of this latest record.

The opener, ‘Closer’ is a slow, seductive stomper, with heartfelt, soulful singing amidst distant wailing guitars and solid commanding drumbeat supplied by the excellent Nathan Followill, setting the stadium rock atmosphere from the outset. “Sex on Fire” the first released single is representative of much of the album, almost indistinguishable from the other docile rock album fillers “I want you” and “Manhattan”. “Revelry” offers a unique moment of intimacy, but only until the rock ballad sensibilities returns in all their glory midway through the song, as the imaginary lighters are raised high in salute.

‘Crawl’ the standout track of the album, opens with a grungy, drone-rock bass intro and strikes an almost electro ambiance which at points, like most of ‘Only by the Night’, will force you to check the C.D case to ensure you haven’t accidentally put your copy of ‘Achtung baby’ on by mistake. Of course, that is a little harsh, no one actually owns a copy of ‘Achtung Baby’, but if they did, they would certainly see the similarities between U2’s early nineties sound and the new and improved popularized, grandiose rock style of Tennessee’s favorite family rock band.


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