Unless you’ve been locked in a bunker for the last decade, Kings of Leon will likely be a familiar name to you. While early in their career they closely coveted the UK market following little success at home in the USA, they literally exploded worldwide following the release of the single Sex on Fire from their LP Only by the Night in 2008. This was the start of a huge shift in their style as well as their success moving from garage rock to stadium anthems almost at the flick of a switch.
WALLS (apparently an acronym of We Are Like Love Songs) is their 7th studio album and marks another shift in their sound that takes them closer to their roots than we have heard since 2008. Sonically, they have maintained their progression but they have incorporated a few elements like Caleb’s rougher vocals on a handful of tracks which echo their first two LPs, as well as some garage rock styled riffs and drums such as this on Waste a Moment (not to be confused with a cover of Fightstar’s track of the same name) and Eyes on You. While it’s still a far cry from the likes of Youth and Young Manhood, this offering is probably their best in the last decade.
There are a couple of downsides for me, some of which have been true of their material since 2008 in so much that as their material became more commercial, I felt that it lost a bit of the soul they had on their first 3 LPs. This may well be true of anyone that makes a success like this from less commercial roots but I feel like this is a bit of a compromise on what they are truly capable of. Specifically to WALLS, every track is good, but the title track isn’t the one I’d have chosen to end the LP. It’s a little too long, a little too light and to be honest, a little boring.
Overall, WALLS is a great album. I really like it and while it takes a nod at the past, it’s still a commercial effort full of stadium anthems, so it’s definitely befitting of their success. As much as I want to see a return to their material pre 2008, I know its unlikely to happen and evolution is as much a part of their success as their roots. I only hope that any future releases are a little less compromised and more true to their roots.