Kings Of Leon: Come Around Sundown

Fizzing fifth from Tennessee’s Followill clan.

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Life’s never been quite the same for Kings of Leon since their last CD.

2008’s Only By the Night was something of a monster, its festival-friendly sound – ringing guitars, epic vocals – driving sales to the six million mark and romping home with a battery of Grammys. As Pearl Jam’s Eddie Vedder told the band: “You’re about to ride a big wave”.

They’ve certainly come a long way since their debut seven years ago, when they were invariably billed as beardy Southern cousins of The Strokes. These days there’s a certain authority, and more than a dab of polish, about them. That’s not to say, thank the Lord, that they’ve suddenly done a U2. Seemingly conscious of avoiding what many might now expect – i.e. stadium-sized complacency – Come Around Sundown instead feels like a summation of their career thus far.

For the most part it’s a return to first principles. Both Back Down South and Mi Amigo, for example, the first a spacy mountain ballad with fiddle and gospel hosannas, are as heavily countrified as they are wistful. And Radioactive and the surging Mary rattle along like anthemic garage-rock songs with added lacquer.

These boys know where they’re headed, alright. But crucially, they’ve not forgotten where they came from.

Rob Hughes

Freelance writer for Classic Rock since 2008, and sister title Prog since its inception in 2009. Regular contributor to Uncut magazine for over 20 years. Other clients include Word magazine, Record Collector, The Guardian, Sunday Times, The Telegraph and When Saturday Comes. Alongside Marc Riley, co-presenter of long-running A-Z Of David Bowie podcast. Also appears twice a week on Riley’s BBC6 radio show, rifling through old copies of the NME and Melody Maker in the Parallel Universe slot. Designed Aston Villa’s kit during a previous life as a sportswear designer. Geezer Butler told him he loved the all-black away strip.