Kings of Leon – WALLS Review 

What had been abundantly clear with Kings of Leon by the start of this decade, is that they had lost their way. They had reacted badly to their popular success and then caught up between this success and the hipster demands of them to sound like they’ve always done. They had almost become a different band. Come Around Sundown had been a forgettable album, whilst Mechanical Bull hinted at their old lyrical and musical talents albeit in flashes. With that, their seventh studio album Walls almost signals a blank canvas for them. They’ve seriously lost their way in recent years, so this album serves as their chance to find their way again.

The first single to be released from the album was ‘Waste A Moment’. With it, they have opted for a pepped up piece of Indie music with rotational rhythms and thin, electronic harmonies with a rumbling bass line beneath crashing percussion. It is certainly nothing new and the rebellious lyrics are certainly well worn too, yet it is delivered with a confidence they’ve been lacking for six or seven years. If this song is anything to go by though, they are in full retreat back into their comfort zone. As opposed to their driving lead single, ‘Walls’ is a slow burning, acoustic number with piano chords hanging predictably from each guitar string pluck. On occasion the song is expanded with piercing lead guitars and reverberating sounds that echo into the song’s larger expanses. The intimacy remains, however and between the crossroads of the two atmospheres is Caleb’s assured and dominant vocals, easily commanding the track and the lyrics. It is an eloquent and cosy track, yet this is a simple though solid effort. ‘Reverend’ is a classic example of anthemic, festival rock with its rotating lead riffs, plunging rhythm sections and simple bass lines. Caleb’s vocals are recorded in a crisp fashion and the rougher edges and added character of them are the best part of an otherwise unsurprising song. It’s a good song, but one that you feel they could do with their eyes closed. 

‘Around the World’ is a track taken from the 2010 indie song book with jolting rhythms, rolling bass lines and shuffling percussion. They make the song work however as it’s delivered excellently and will undoubtedly be a great live track, but you have to ask where is the motivation coming from for this recently worn over sound. ‘Over’ is one of the strongest tracks on the album for mixing atmospheric quality with their anthemic direction. Though it has shades of the Killers last album, the rumbling, driving sound is paired well with Caleb’s dry vocals as opposed to the showman style of Brandon Flowers. They are able to make the track emotive and powerful with this combination. ‘Eyes On You’ is almost an ode to Thin Lizzy with a sprinkle of Huntington Beach sand in the chorus, but for that you’d just need to consult the likes of Bleached. Walls is an album that is a wholehearted delivery of an anthemic sound with strong ties to their earlier work, if not as good. It must be said that the delivery is immaculate and Caleb’s vocals have become the bands new secret weapon after being a previous afterthought. Despite this, they seem to have nothing new to offer or nothing new to say simply. The styles they’ve put forward all have another group undercutting their sound and it almost seems like they’ve been squeezed out stylistically over the last six or seven years. The world has moved on since 2008 and Kings of Leon need to consider that before their next album.

Kings of Leon – WALLS = 6/10

Owen Riddle

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