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