by / September 19th, 2008 /

Kings of Leon – Only By The Night (Track by Track)

Kings of Leon’s fourth album Only By The Night is released today, Huzzah! But what does it sound like? Here’s State’s track-by track run down. A full review will appear in the next issue of the magazine.

A markedly different sound for the band opens the record. The main melody is a bass guitar played through an octave pedal with plenty of reverb and delay. It sounds spooky and atmospheric which is fitting as the song has a gothic dystopian feel. Caleb is in lovesick vampire mode singing about his ‘2000 years of chasing taking its toll’.

Jared Followill explains how the band got the song’s unique sound:
That was really quickly, off the cuff. We were sitting around the studio and as far as the bassline goes, I had a bassline that me and Nathan were working together on. But as we don’t use a clicktrack, it was like a repeat pedal that we couldn’t get down so we thought about not even doing it. Right before we started, I clicked on an octave pedal and started playing with, had some reverb on it. All the guys liked it and it’s the thing that starts off the record which most people think is a keyboard. We came in and put a lot of reverb on everything, Matthew found out his pick-up on his guitar picked up his voice so a lot of those really atmospheric sounds, that’s Matthew screaming into his guitar.

Back into familiar territory with a fuzzy guitar and bass-led number. Features a Guns and Roses-esque guitar solo and Caleb’s token political lyric refers to the ‘crucified USA‘.

3.’Sex on Fire’
Probably the simplest, least-taxing song on the album, hence its first single status. Establishes Caleb’s voice as having definitively grown in stature. We’re a long way from his mumblings on ‘Molly’s Chambers’ now.

4.’Use Somebody’
The soon to be smash hit and a sure-fire single. It sounds stadium-bound within the first five seconds. An epic sound with epic backing vocals matched to Caleb’s longing for somebody to have an ‘aul cuddle with on the road. Poor little rock star.

Sky-scrapingly good guitar work from Matthew. Lyrics about Caleb’s dancing prowess belie his pedigree for static live performance.

A lovely piano-led Southern ballad finds Caleb in wistful mode – ‘Just know it was you all along who had a hold on my heart / But the demon in me was a best friend from the start‘.

Chiming guitars like church bells lead into this tune with a bluesy feel. ‘Ooh, she’s only seventeeeeen,’ sings Caleb in his distinctive Southern drawl. A bit pedestrian, all things considered.

Apparently about people dissing the band, it features a cheery, driving almost indie-rock histrionics amd the lyrics ‘So don’t knock it, don’t knock it, you’ve been here before ‘. Question is this the Kings, albeit less annoying version of ‘Mr. Writer’?

9.’I Want You’
As ‘Charmer’ was KOL doing the Pixies on the last record, this is the band’s ‘take’ on ‘Wave of Mutilation’ taken only slightly out of that comparison by Caleb’s Tennessee twang. ‘Take’ there means ‘rip-off’ by the way.

10.’Be Somebody’
The rockiest number on the album with a slight Radiohead vibe. Drop-d tuning makes the guitar riff sound dusty and slightly disturbed.

11.’Cold Desert’
The title lends the closing song its setting as the song rides in slowly from the dusk. A song imbued by Nashville and the South about ‘a man at the end of his rope who picks himself back up’, so hence the stark, widescreen closing credits feel. A resolute ending with the line -‘Hand over your heart / Let’s go home‘. Employs a neat trick at the end.

  • Dan

    The main problem the album has to over come is that, well, its terrible. Disgustingly epic and stadium. Where and why did they go wrong?

  • Dave

    Liked the first two albums.

    Last album was a pixies rip off, but it wasn’t too bad. It grew on me… despite the plagerism.

    This one is really really terrible though.

    How can a band lose there talents overnight like this. Really disapointing. Boring and amatuer.

  • Cocaine has a lot to answer for..

  • I have no comment to make about the sound this album makes, but jesus, that has to be a candidate for the worst cover art I’ve ever seen.

  • I like it.

    (scurries off for cover)

  • Ciara

    Liked it from the start and the more I listen to it the more it grows on me…. (hides for cover beside Niall)

  • Dan

    Niall and Ciara: Its a dangerous opinion to be keeping. Keep your eyes open this weekend 😀

  • I reckon it’s not as bad as some band-wagoneers are making it out to be, but I do think it is the worst they’ve released.

    It’s a bit samely and uninteresting toward the end, but I don’t think KOL have ever had a strong end to an album. Great start though and Crawl is a brilliant step in a *slightly* different direction. Looking forward to December, all the same! 😀

  • Shmaz.

    i fucking love you kings.
    yea some of the middle tracks definitely waver off a little.
    but give them a break,
    they’re brilliant and i will love calebs voice til th day i die (:

  • sarah

    mmmm, i like it too, not running for cover but i will say i’ve had such good times with the previous albums that i’m biased, i did think stadium sound on the first couple of listens though.. and they sound more like the rest of the pack on this one with echoes of well, lots of people… tis a pity

  • Kings Of Leon – SNL from ERINA on Vimeo.

    Live on SNL

  • Drew

    I’m so sick of people being scared to have an opinion.Run for cover!Ha!I thought that this album was great from the first spin.I’m damn sure not ashamed to say it.Now that I’ve listened to it easily 20-30 times since I bought it.I can say without second guessing myself that this is there best album.Maybe if people would stop reading reviews before they listen to a new album(I’m talking any album by any band) they could form their own opinion.And the band hasn’t sounded this musically diverse ever.Caleb is at the top of his game for sure on this album(finally some confidence).The entire sound of the album is so much tighter and more focused/experimental than their previous albums.And how can anyone who actually appreciates music not want a band to evolve?The music has always been solid(this is there best so far).The vocals have always been good but not great(they are now).This is the band that they’ve always intended to be(clearly!).Do you really want a band that you like to never mature and progress into the best version of themselves?If so,then just stop listening to Kings of Leon.Because the masterpiece is coming!And it’s not even going to sound like this!They’re still in their 20s for crying out loud!Get your A.D.D. under control and get a grip people.Instant gratification is short lived!That’s why it’s called “music appreciation”.

  • Now that’s what I call an opinion. Good work fella.

  • paul s

    drew, i slaute you!! point very well made, can everyone seriously shut up about how bad it is…coz its not! its an amazing album as always, what would you expect from KOL? every song they’ve realeased is different and there more distinct than any other band out there at the moment.

  • Alan

    Absolute classic of an album! I dont see why people are going way to deep into it “oh its so different from their 1st two albums”, its only music.And you cant expect a band to stay the same forever anyway. U2 and RHCP have been around for ages and you can hear the change in their albums but you can also(most of the time) see their improvement as artists. And anyway good music is good music who cares if its not the same as old stuff and I can still hear bits of Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake in it anyway. Calebs finally singing properly too.

  • Niamh M

    I still really really want a standing ticket for Dublin

  • James

    This is the best album I’ve heard in 15 years. It is destined to become a classic. Yes, the band have grown – sounds like some of you guys aren’t willing to do the same.

  • keith

    Fantastic album, been with the lads from day one, and have loved listen to their sound improve. the problem is people get pissed off whenever a band they like gets too popular because they think if everyone likes them then they must have sold out or be shit like coldplay and snow patrol, fact is KOL are just that good and anyone who has seen them live can attest to that!

  • normally normal

    This album is brutal towards the others the only song decent enough is the sex is on fire!!!!

    I suppse it will grow on everyone after a while. hopefully!!!!

  • Ming

    well “sex on fire” is a freakin brilliant song! better than the crappy bucket one! still got to listen to the rest of the album but sex on fire is a definite improvement! well good!

  • jim

    i actually gave this a positive review when it first came out and i’ll stick to it – the lyrics of KOL have never been particularly cryptic or overwhelming, but they serve the genre. and caleb sings his heart out on all of his lyrics. i think fans should be happy – they’re all playing as if they understand each other more these days.

    but for the record, i can’t see a distinct comparison in i want you/wave of mutilation. pixies are my most played band and KOL are second. maybe its just me…

  • shelly

    Well, I am a “newbie”. Never heard of this band, until Sex on Fire. I liked it a lot, so I did some other listening. I immediately fell in love with Closer, and Cold Desert…I love the smokey, gritty, soulstirring feeling of the music, and his voice! I’ve been trying to get my boyfriend to like it, but he is a more mainstream listener. I love finding these hidden gems of music. I have also taken a liking to Charmer, Crawl, and FANS…OH MY! That voice, daring to be out there…I love it! apparently from earlier albums?? If anyone can recommend some of their better songs we are arguing about, that would be great, though in my humble opinion, nothing could top these songs.

  • Afrisoul

    yoll guys are just hating the kings> this aibum is kick ass. well ,at least the first five tracks.