Kings of Leon – Come Around Sundown

Come Around Sundown

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“Sex on Fire,” the hit single from Kings of Leon’s album Only by the Night, seemingly came out of nowhere to catapult the band to national recognition. It also happened to be my favorite new song of 2008. So one might imagine that these Tennessee boys face some pretty high expectations when it comes to that album’s follow up, both from me and, more importantly, pretty much everyone else who follows modern rock music. I’m happy to report, then, that Come Around Sundown in many ways exceeds expectations and provides Night an excellent follow-up.

Let’s talk about the one place where it doesn’t meet those expectations, though. There’s no “Sex on Fire” here. That track was a huge standout on the last album, an obvious hit through and through. I personally found the way that song used empty space captivating; it was unlike any rock song I’d ever heard before. Nothing on Come Around Sundown quite elicits that response from me. But that comes with some good news: the album as a whole is quite a bit stronger than its predecessor.

I’ve noticed that no one really talks about how same-sounding a lot of the tracks are on Only by the Night. I actually had to listen to that album about five times through before the songs started distinguishing themselves from one another. That’s not necessarily a bad thing, but it does mean that the band didn’t really attempt any interesting alterations in their general sound from track to track.

That problem does not exist on Come Around Sundown. Though cut from the same sonic cloth as Night, many of these tunes have been embroidered… a subtle string section here, a choir doing background vocals there, an acoustic guitar filling in some gaps. I realize that some of you may be rolling your eyes and thinking the band has gotten to that point in their career where they add string sections or choirs to recordings almost arbitrarily because they think they have to sound “bigger,” but I don’t think that’s what’s happening here. As a counterpoint, I present the following evidence: this album has two honest-to-goodness dirty rock & roll guitar solos. Such a thing was absent from Only by the Night (the slow, melodic guitar emoting on “Use Somebody” doesn’t count) and I’m sure some fans of Kings of Leon’s grittier days will be happy to see it return. On the whole this album feels to me like the band is attempting to take the sound of their biggest commercial success to date and find ways to tweak it or possibly even combine it with what they’ve done before. I’m all about that. Check out a track like “Mary,” probably my favorite song on the album, to see what I mean.

As typically happens with these post-hit albums, some fans will surely be disappointed in Come Around Sundown simply because it’s not the last record, but I actually think we’re all better off for it. I believe this album proves that sudden commercial success has not doomed Kings of Leon, but rather has pushed them into making more interesting music. Of course if everyone takes to this album like I have and it, too, becomes a huge success, this whole process starts over again in a few years…

tags: come around sundown, kings of leon

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  • http://seankealey.net Noah Nickels

    i liked the album as well, but having been a KOL fan for a while now, all the albums seem to run together. Nothing beats Day Old Blue off Aha Shake Heartbreak for me, never quite heard that again.

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