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Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull

Sophie Ahmed


In 2003, four shabby American rockers brought their youth and young manhood to UK radio with ballsy Southern single Wasted Time. 10 years, 6 albums and several haircuts later, Kings of Leon are clearly trying to revive their Tennessee roots with an album called Mechanical Bull.

In recent years they’ve been associated with mature big-budget arena shows, but has the band now succeeded in making a record reminiscent of the drug-induced days of albums 1-3, which has been anticipated since the commercial boom of Sex on Fire?

Leading single Supersoaker epitomises his view with its colourful music video featuring the precious rarity of singer Caleb’s cheeky grin, and its happy-go-lucky chorus “I don’t mind sentimental girls at times” which bears resemblance to the earlier lyrical themes of sex, drugs and rock n roll. The musicianship on the track is undeniably advanced, as shown by the pounding drum beat, fun bass break and distinct development in Caleb’s vocal range.

It is following tracks Rock City and Don’t Matter that conjure up a better image of cruising through downtown Nashville in an open top Cadillac. In the former, guitarist Matthew presents us with a twangy intro drenched in distortion before Caleb’s memorable line “I was running through the desert I was looking for drugs” which mimics the spoken-word singing style of Joe’s Head in their debut. Don’t Matter is perhaps closest to being the product of a band who once notably snorted wasabi and is built on the best guitar part since long-time set-closer Black Thumbnail. Other elements of continuity within the album are the Holy Roller Novocaine bass line copy in Family Tree and living up to their nickname “The Southern Strokes” in Temple.

On the contrary, Beautiful War, Comeback Story and Wait for Me are far too sentimental for the rebellious sons of a Preacher we came to know and love in the early noughties. It has to be said that Mechanical Bull is not quite the comeback story of a lifetime as anticipated, and KOL’s days of being a pocket band are long gone.

Disgruntled long-term fans will soon have to accept that they have moved over to a world where Grammy nominations are in abundance and models are wives. Can we blame them for staying there?