Kings of Leon – Because of the Times
Kings of Leon’s first album, Youth and Young Manhood, was so deeply sexual and lustful, and their sophomore release had the air of romance and wooing involved; now they return with their third, and most mature album, Because of the Times, which is all about falling in love. Once again morphing a completely different sound out of the same bluesy, soulful guitars, the Followill Brothers (and cousin) craft their finest album to date.
Youth and Young Manhood changed my life and the way I view music. I still think it is one of the greatest albums of the past ten years. So, it is with the utmost of trepidation that I state that this album is better. I don’t know if it is as much fun as the unbridled passion bottled up in songs like “Red Morning Light” and “Holy Roller Novocaine”, but the sultry distance and dreamy guitars make this album just as powerful in a completely different way. I am actually having trouble writing this article as this album jams in my headphones because I keep getting swept up in the music.
The album begins on a very courageous note, with the longest Kings of Leon song ever. At 7 minutes and 10 seconds, “Knocked Up” immediately challenges the listener; letting one know what to expect with the rest of the album. It is also the best track on the album. In past reviews I have condemned songs over 5 minutes long, but this song I listen to in its entirety, every time it comes on. It’s a perfectly crafted love song about two young lovers, soon to have a baby, taking off in a Coupe DeVille and running from everyone who says they shouldn’t be together. Caleb Followill’s cranky vocals and the band’s dirty sound paints the perfect picture of these kids kicking up dust on desert road, hopping from motel to motel. Unsure of where they are going, only knowing they can’t go back. The songwriting throughout the album is just as compelling and fervent, often calling up on the feeling of a revival church in the South where the band grew up, and after which the album is named. Especially during songs like “The Runner”, it seems like the band is trying to send a congregation into a fit of epileptic dancing and speaking in tongues.
Every song’s chorus catches the listener just as well as the previous albums, but during the verses the band allow themselves to wander. Not far enough to tread into a jam band, or musical masturbation, the guitars rip into amazing riffs from blues to punk to ambient dissonance and it finds a solid base on good ol’ rock and roll. It defiantly doesn’t hit you as quickly as Youth and Young Manhood does, but after two listens it really begins to sink in.
Caleb still sounds like he is just about to hit puberty and may burst into tears at any moment, but he has learned to control it, and use it to the songs’ advantage, and not just let it tear the songs apart. I was recently reading Neil Young’s biography and when asked about his unique voice he said that it was the only way he could do it. He doesn’t know where it came from but he is glad it’s there. I feel the same about Caleb’s voice. It seems so preternatural but over the course of three albums he has gotten to understand it and control it to his advantage. This is a highly original album from one of the most original and incomparable bands currently recording.
There is no WHILE WE’RE ON THE SUBJECT… for this review. Just get the album.