Up until this point, Kings of Leon had been nothing short of a great young American band, buoyed by the success of its Grammy-winning hit Use Somebody. Now the Followill boys are maturing and owning up to their musical lot in life through smart lyrics and a signature sound on Come Around Sundown.
The fifth album from the Kings (frontman Caleb, along with Nathan, Jared and Matthew) has a certain sonic echo throughout. On occasion, Caleb Followill sounds like he's down the hall from the rest of the band, groaning his lyrics through an air vent.
But it all works, wonderfully. And Kings of Leon have simply perfected this "instant-epic" sound.
Lead track The End has a beautiful melody. Caleb Followill sings, "I just want to be there, when you're all alone" with pathos as a heavy drumbeat paces underneath. The guitar work is intricate but gives way to his vocals nicely.
Mary gives us a wall of sound, with no gaps for silence or a breath. The guitar strums come at three times the speed of the slow drumbeat. Lead guitarist Matthew Followill shows off some range and variety here with soaring soulful riffs.
The songs feel upbeat and are mostly about love and life paths. There's a confidence on display here in the lyrics, and Caleb Followill wants us to know that he's pleased with where his heart and head are. On songs like The Immortals and Pony Up, the frontman takes a stand for love or loneliness, whichever comes his way.
Until someone unseats them, Kings of Leon are indeed the kings of the U.S. rock kingdom.