Only By The Night

Kings Of Leon

RCA, 2008

REVIEW BY: Sarah Curristan


In general, I’d consider myself the Pollyanna of music listeners; anything is, to a degree, likeable, and I strive to find the silver lining even in the worst purchases. Maybe I’m a natural optimist or it could be that I just don’t like to admit when I get it wrong. With Kings Of Leon’s latest record Only By The Night, I’m searching so hard for that silver lining that I’d probably settle for a twinge of copper.

Even as a huge fan of this band, I’m struggling to defend this one because it is so out of character and disappointing. To put it bluntly, it’s the musical equivalent of seeing Marilyn Monroe or Jackie O in tracksuit bottoms.

Kings Of Leon’s debut album garnered them much acclaim for their country-infused classic rock sound led by lead singer Caleb Followill’s raw, lupine vocals. Their third album my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250 Because Of The Times marked a slight departure from this style, venturing into a more mainstream rock ‘n’ roll sound. Only By The Night picks up where the band left off, delving into an uncomfortable form of stadium rock.

The album’s first single “Sex On Fire,” while arrestingly catchy, plays as if the chief aim of the song was to get a number one single. It opens with the obligated bass-line to give the drunks enough time to get on the dance floor, it’s jabbed full of innuendoes and finishes with a screamer of a chorus. As sickeningly formatted as it seems, it works and is arguably one of the better songs on this disc.

The main problem that Only By The Night encounters is that a lot of the tracks are built-up but don’t deliver. One example is “Be Somebody,” a song with a great intro and verse but a chorus that fails to impress. A lot of the tracks fall into this trap, and the record as a whole just seems empty and a bit tedious. It’s almost as if you spend the album’s lifespan waiting for something to happen..

If not for band’s signature vocals, this album would be unrecognizable as Kings Of Leon. In fairness, if it wasn’t for the past success of their albums, Only By The Night wouldn’t’t be judged by such a harsh standard. Given a couple of plays their latest effort has the potential to be a mediocre album, but nothing memorable. Copper twinges on offer to appease include “I Want You,” the opening track “Closer,” and “17.”

Only By The Nights downfall is that it seems to leave behind the virtues of past Kings Of Leon records rather than develop them. Their newest album is barer than any of its predecessors, forsaking most of the grit, riffs and solos that were the crux of the band’s earlier style. Musicians are entitled to a departure from their signature sound, but I’m hoping this is a round trip.

Rating: D+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



© 2008 Sarah Curristan and The Daily Vault. All rights reserved. Review or any portion may not be reproduced without written permission. Cover art is the intellectual property of RCA, and is used for informational purposes only.