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[Southern Rock]

Kings of Leon

Only By The Night

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Patrick Donnelly

Fans of the four Followills—brothers Caleb, Jared and Nathan and cousin Matthew—who constitute Kings of Leon should welcome with open arms the band’s fourth album, Only by the Night, a fully realized fusion of their Southern-grunge roots and arena-rock grandeur that recovers the playful immediacy of their 2003 debut, Youth and Young Manhood, while maintaining the epic scope and sonic opulence of its two follow-ups.

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Kings of Leon
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Kings of Leon
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Kings of Leon have toured with U2 and The Strokes, and careful listeners will hear hints of both band’s influence, especially in the crunchy, crashing guitars on “Crawl” that recall The Edge’s work on “Bullet the Blue Sky.” The first single, “Sex on Fire,” borrows the echoing backbeat guitars patented by The Strokes when they made garage rock cool again, circa 2002.

But the Followill boys stake out their own ground throughout, starting with the spacey muted synth loop that imbues the album opener, “Closer,” with a futuristic contrast to the Jack Daniel’s-infused barroom rock that once was their trademark. A thundering tom-tom beat ups the urgency of the frenetic “Use Somebody,” while the cowbell funk and R&B-inflected vocals of “I Want You” represent the closest thing to a love song that you’ll find in the Kings of Leon catalog, a fitting inclusion for a band that’s growing more comfortable in its own shoes with each passing album.

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