Kings of Leon: When You See Yourself

It ’ second hard to pinpoint when Kings of Leon stopped enjoying themselves. They were never the most fundamental ring of the aughts rock revival, but they were the ones who bought in most completely, dressing like the group from Almost Famous and living like an audition for a Behind the Music special. Yet once they achieved their hard-fought arena stardom, the obligations of running a rock band as a major enterprise sapped any residual freedom and impulsivity from their music. Their records grew bigger while the personalities behind them shrank. It ’ mho been 10 years since the last Kings of Leon birdcall anybody wants to karaoke, and the ring is distillery chasing the apparition of their gigantic late- ’ 00s hits .
The group ’ s eighth album, When You See Yourself, briefly teases what a win Kings of Leon album could sound like in 2021. amazingly light on its toes, opener “ When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away ” is bright with pinging polyrhythms. It ’ s the most exultant the ring has sounded in years, and while it ’ s not their normal lane, it suggests there might be a path forward in unashamedly pilfering from the buoyant, neon-painted corners of contemporary alternative. This isthmus has been erstwhile beyond their years for thus hanker, possibly it ’ mho time they skewed unseasoned for once .
But When You See Yourself international relations and security network ’ thyroxine that kind of album. It ’ s the only kind of album Kings of Leon know how to make anymore, which is a minor pas seul of the last one, and the one before that. The most, if not only fresh thing about this album is that it is the beginning album in history available as an NFT, a cryptanalytic way to sell art and music on-line. Forget about the Southern Strokes or the southerly U2. They ’ ve now spent most of their career as the Southern post- Antics Interpol, a band desperately clinging to a sound that ’ s stopped working, trying to write songs that soar but capable only of ones that wallow .
Lending to that unwelcome feel of déjà vu is returning WALLS manufacturer Markus Dravs, a Brian Eno disciple who ’ s engineered records for Coldplay and Arcade Fire. As a For Your Consideration Grammy submission, his influence is impeccable—almost every lead sounds like an expensive technical feat. But in practice, his production competes with these songs more than it complements them, eclipsing them like skyscrapers oblivious to any lakefront view they may be blocking. The mix saves the worst of its wrath for Caleb Followill, whose voice it continually finds new and barbarous ways to bury. On “ Fairytale, ” Followill ’ s unloved yowl is reduced to a red wine stain trying to stand out against a interfering carpet.

Followill has never been an easily clear singer to begin with, but the lyrics that are audible place him inside a drab mid-life rut. On the cosmically forlorn “ Time in Disguise, ” one of the record ’ s many tracks pitched at the tempo of mid-period Coldplay album cut, he can ’ triiodothyronine shake his own obsolescence : “ Close your eyes and what do you see ? /Is it a man or masked machine ? ” even more dejected is the country-hued “ Supermarket, ” where Followill promises “ I ’ thousand going nowhere, if you ’ ve got the time. ” Followill is 39, but from these songs, you ’ vitamin d think he ’ south workshopping one of Rick Rubin ’ s end-of-life albums.

Is this what anybody wants to hear from this band ? While Kings of Leons ’ early album left batch to nitpick—namely the hideous 1970s sexual politics—they had a guy ’ s-night-out department of energy that could be infectious if you bought into a particular fantasy notion of masculinity. When You See Yourself, on the other handwriting, packs in all the prurience of a weekend run to The Container Store. It ’ second hard to imagine the wild-maned early embodiment of Kings of Leon even wanting to listen to a band like this, let alone play in one. In truth, their stream iteration doesn ’ t sound all that thrilled about it, either.

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