Kings Of Leon
‘Mechanical Bull’ (Columbia)
Are Kings Of Leon back? ‘Mechanical Bull’’s front end is grimy and thrusts, frots and perspires like it’s 2004. ‘Supersoaker’, with neon-American imagery and ‘Taper Jean Girl’-referencing percussion, is uninhibited. ‘Don’t Matter’ and ‘Rock City’ offer motorcycle-ready rock and lascivious moodiness. There’s sex, familial chemistry and beardy manliness – things people cherish Kings for.
But they’re snatched away. ‘Beautiful War’ is wantonly epic; a stab at a U2 mega-ballad that whooshes away like Christian Bale’s Batman, while ‘Temple’ is lamentably drive-time.
Bizarre centrepiece ‘Family Tree’ brings revival. Caleb – flawless throughout – croaks “A ha” heralding an exercise in bravery that is simultaneously amazing and awful – guitars a 57-year-old would term ‘funky’ and a chant-a-long breakdown (think Sister Sledge).
Thereafter, ‘Tonight’ aggressively reimagines ‘Use Somebody’, before cheese-heavy pair ‘Walk A Mile’ (built for a Heinz soup advert) and ‘On The Chin’ (you’ll taste the dry ice) close ‘Mechanical Bull’ ostentatiously.
The return to form many craved has proved impossible, but this is the sound of youths grown into their manhood. No longer a freaky cult, Kings Of Leon is a powerhouse, a religious institution that welcomes anyone. And this is as forceful, salacious and dangerous as they’re likely to get.