In 2007, I placed the Kings third album, Because Of The Times, near the top of my list of the best albums of the year. Only By The Night is even better. This time out, the Kings have made a somewhat more accessible record without giving up any of the urgency that informed their earlier work. While the pace of this album is slightly relaxed compared to the devastating onslaught of Because Of The Times, none of the band’s immediacy has been lost.
Caleb Followill remains one of the most compelling frontmen on the scene. If anything, he has stepped up his game, creating a slow burning intensity that is insistent and harrowing. He is joined by brothers Nathan and Jared, and cousin Matthew to create a sound that ranges from the desolate opener “Closer” (Caleb says it’s about a lovesick vampire), to the album’s incendiary first single, “Sex On Fire.” There is more melody present than on earlier efforts too, as demonstrated by the “Use Somebody,” a plea for companionship in a lonely world, and the emotional closing ballad, “Cold Desert.”
For the second year in a row, Kings Of Leon are going to be at or near the top of my year-end list. It is a rare band that continues to get better with each album. If the Kings are able to continue this trend, their future is downright scary.