Kings Of Leon Jump the Shark!
Band not off to a very
good start, critically speaking. Damn you, pesky critics!
By Fred Mills
In a salute to traditional British stiff-upper-lipness (or
is that sheer bloody-mindedness?), the UK media – or at least the NME – is already toting big stiffies for
the forthcoming Kings Of Leon album Only By the Night, scheduled for release
next week in both the UK and the U.S.
Recall that the Kings initially broke through in England, where the week-to-week hype machine of
the printed media can easily maneuver next-bit-thing phenoms compared to the U.S. where, to
a somewhat steadily vanishing degree, first week sales have tended to be less
critical for the success of acts.
Pursuant to the foregoing, in a somewhat hyperventilating
report filed this morning by the NME we learn that tracks from the band will be
previewed on NME Radio tomorrow night as the hype machine ramps up: “Songs from
the band’s fourth album will be played on the hour every hour from 7am (BST),”
reads the account, adding, “Plus anyone who gets in touch with the station from
7am either by emailing email@example.com or by texting in (text NME followed by your message to 65065) will be automatically entered into a draw to win a
signed copy of the Kings Of Leon album.”
“We are extremely excited to hear what is, undoubtedly, one
of the most anticipated albums of the year,” declared station boss Sammy Jacob.
“It will be brilliant to listen to the album together with our listeners.”
Well, all right then!
In an effort to help out our British readers (we know you’re
out there, we can hear you sniffling from the damp air), we’d like to direct
you to some recently published comments about the Kings’ album, which apparently
is underwhelming American reviewers. This may help temper your natural Limey
overenthusiasm. Sob! Where’s Maggie Thatcher when ya need her!
In a stellar Pitchfork review in which the writer awarded the band a whopping 3.8 rating (out of
10) we hear of vocalist Caleb Followil’s unnaturally affected vocals and
clichéd songwriting. “Even the move from “southern Strokes” to
“southern U2″ is way better in theory than in practice– these are
the same clunky Kings of Leon songs, just now presented in an incredibly weird
context… We can do better for the platonic ideal of a rock band than four guys
gunning for a spot rightfully inhabited by My Morning Jacket but instead coming
up with the best songs 3 Doors Down never wrote.”
Whew. Succinct, but brutal.
Speaking of succinct, your friendly neighborhood BLURT, in
the new September digital magazine, gave the album a ONE STAR RATING (out of
ten), an honor previously reserved only for John Mayer:
Kings of Leon have
jumped the shark, gone over the edge, and wrecked the train, simultaneously,
miraculously, horribly. Only By the Night is a rock ‘n’ roll version of the
Palin VP pick – a bad choice at a bad time. The Kings’ blend of Southern rock
and post-punk has reaped some wonderful results over the past few years. This,
however, is a ridiculous mess of ‘80s darkwave, adult alternative, and arena
rock ballads, on which Caleb Followill has replaced his gruff but melodic vocal
style with a generic croon. But this is only part of the dumbing-down process
the band seems to have gone through. There’s no doubt that the boys thought
writing sappy ballads, such as “Use Somebody,” was a step towards musical
maturity. The reality is that it’s a damn shame, and one can only hope the
Kings will learn from this blunder.
This has been a public service announcement – with guitars.
UPDATE: This press release just got slipped over the BLURT transom:
The band are confirmed to be the music guest on Saturday Night Live this
Saturday night, September 20th. Actor James Franco is set to host what should be
a rather raucous and hilarious 90 minutes of television. Once the party dies
down, Kings of Leon will move into release day, Tuesday, September 23rd, with a
performance on the Late Show with David
Letterman as well as an exclusive sold-out club date at New York’s
Webster Hall later that evening.