Words About Music
Kings of Leon “Mechanical Bull”
One of the most undeservedly popular rock bands of the last 10 years is Tennessee’s Southern rock turned arena rock group Kings of Leon, who are basically a country-blues version of U2, but without the staying power and legacy. They both have incredibly douchey singers though. Kings of Leon had some critical acclaim with their first three albums and started to hit it big around 2008, with their hit album “Only by the Night.” You may remember songs like “Sex on Fire,” “Use Somebody,” and “Notion” from that era of Kings of Leon which turned out to be their peak. “Sex on Fire” was Kings’ brand of arena rock at its absolute finest. It was an epic song about great sex that was perfect for the radios and the Lollapaloozas of the world, and “Use Somebody” was a sing-a-long for the Heineken-drinking anti-hipsters who hadn’t yet been introduced to Mumford and Sons and The Black Keys. Past that, though, Kings of Leon were on a rocky decline, and not just musically. Lead singer Caleb Followill also experienced drinking problems that led to a hiatus, and also birds crapped on one of their sets, which turned out to be a performance art piece constructed by Pitchfork writer Ian Cohen (just kidding). Now the Followill family is back with their sixth studio effort, backed by the promotional single “Supersoaker,” which is easily their best song since “Sex on Fire.” Unfortunately and predictably, the rest of the album falls so short that it might as well not even exist. It’s the expired icing on the month-old cake that is Kings of Leon.
Unfortunately for Kings of Leon, the best song on “Mechanical Bull” is the first track, and that’s probably the only good song on the album. The rest is a jumbled mish-mash of songs that vary from horrible to okay in quality. And this is a 42-minute album; 50 minutes if you choose to listen to the two bonus tracks (why this album has bonus tracks is beyond me). Arguably Kings of Leon’s worst quality is the fact that they take themselves so seriously that listening to pedantic attempts at rekindling a 5-year old spark is less enjoyable than watching a 10 hour loop of Miley Cyrus twerking.
If the Followill brothers (and cousin) did anything right, it’s that they named the album “Mechanical Bull,” because if this album is anything, it’s mechanical. These guys are obviously trying to make some sort of comeback after the period of inactivity over the past two years, yet they come back and release what could very well be their worst record in their entire career. I would call this the straw that broke the camel’s back, but the camel’s back has been broken for so long the camel died of thirst. This is more like the straw that makes Coldplay look like Radiohead. It’s a pretty sorry attempt at recreating the fascinating, fun southern rock/bluesy arena pop of yesteryear.
As you can see if you’ve been reading this, “Mechanical Bull” was a failure on the part of the Followill family, producer Angelo Petraglia who managed to make Kings of Leon sound more like John Mayer than Stevie Ray Vaughan, and RCA Records who thought that people would enjoy this record. And I’m sure there are people who will enjoy “Mechanical Bull” (it’s already gotten a higher Metascore than their most recent two albums, the ones that made them famous) but this is really the last time I expect Kings of Leon to dole out anything that isn’t a boring, phoned-in insult to the few remaining fans of a band that’s been essentially replaced by groups slightly more interesting.
SCORE – 0.9
FAVORITE TRACKS – Supersoaker