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Friday, February 22nd
The Critics Corner: Albums
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon- Only By The Night
Fourth effort innovative and mellow
Only By The Night Name: "Only By The Night "
Label: RCA
Release Date: September 23, 2008
My rating: 4.5 out of 5

Review written by: Michelle Fantus
Kings of Leon are known for defying conventional southern rock by creating a cocktail of insightful lyrics and an original indie-sound.  In their fourth studio album, Only By The Night (releasing 09/23/08), the Tennessee quartet doesn’t disappoint.  The album showcases eleven superb tracks, most of which are mellower than one would expect from Kings Of Leon.

“Stranded in this spooky town/Stoplight is swaying and the phone lines are down.”  No, you’re not reading the narrative to a horror movie, but rather the visual opening lyrics of the band’s highly-anticipated album, Only By The Night.  Followed by “bubbling” effects from Matthew’s guitar, these lyrics form the intro to “Closer,” the opening track which sets the mellow mood for the album.

“Crawl” is the second track, and is one of the rougher songs on the album.  With lyrics like, “The reds and the whites and abused/The crucified USA,” the song is extremely political and un-patriotic.  Being my least favorite song on the album, I still appreciate the classic guitar riffs (a la Led Zeppelin) and the 80’s area rock sound that gets listeners riled up.

The first single, “Sex On Fire,” follows.  It’s edgy, powerful, and catchy to say the least.  Being an indie anthem of lust, it’s not the best song to listen to on the Top-10 radio countdown in the car with your parents to Aunt Milly’s house, but rock fans rejoice! – It’s the greatest, most risqué singles I’ve heard all year!

My favorite song on the album is undoubtedly the fourth track, “Use Somebody.”  It will be surprising if this isn’t the second single.  It’s reminiscent to a 1980’s power ballad, reinforcing the theme of classic, southern rock, which is refreshing in today’s predictable world of rock.

If and when you stop listening to “Use Somebody,” you can wind-down with the next track, “Manhattan.”   This song takes the listener through a seemingly eventful night in New York City. As a Manhattan urbanite myself, I can never hear enough songs written about the city.  Despite the slower tone of this song, the lyrics wake it up.

The boys slow it down again for the sixth track, “Revelry.”  Poetic lyrics are the strength that carries this song, since the track is otherwise bland.  The song describes a reflection of a past relationship torn by, of course, the love for revelry.

An impressive bass line drives “17,” and “Notion” has a catchy refrain which gives it a familiar sound from preceding Kings Of Leon albums.  The ninth track, “I Want You,” is more laid-back with summer beats and rhyming lyrics.

Not to be confused with “Use Somebody,” number ten is titled “Be Somebody.”  The 42 second outro is certainly matchless and one of the highlights of the album.  Fans should anticipate seeing this song performed live, as Nathan’s talent on the drums is extremely impressive.

The album closes with “Cold Desert,” and has a guitar-solo interlude which almost tops the outro of “Be Somebody.”  A soft ballad, “Cold Desert” is both a musical and lyrical poem about strong sensibility to loneliness.  It effectively wraps up the soft album’s journey through sex, love, revelry, coming-of-age, heartbreak and loneliness.

Most will agree that this is a new overall sound for Kings of Leon.  Innovative and mellow, yet meeting the lyrical expectations of the “old” Kings of Leon, most fans will appreciate Only By The Night.  Though it lacks the hard “Charmer” edginess that fans know and love, the incredible riffs, lyrics, and melodies of the heavier songs, such as “Crawl” and “Sex On Fire,” more than make up for it.  I recommend Musiqtone.com visitors to hurry up and buy a copy of Only By The Night when it releases on September 23, 2008.

Shannon LyonsMichelle Fantus is a staff writer in the East Coast region for Musiqtone.com. You can contact her at michellefantus@musiqtone.com or fill out this feedback form below.
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