Release Date: Apr 3, 2007
Record label: RCA
Genre(s): Indie, Rock
The songs of indie-influenced Southern rockers Kings of Leon have tended to be concise and traditionally structured. But their third CD, Because of the Times, is a more sonically ambitious beast, as evidenced by album opener ”Knocked Up,” which is nicely loose and seven minutes long. Indeed, with the exception of the relatively straightforward ”Black Thumbnail,” all the tracks here find the band experimenting, successfully, with spacey atmospherics.
Like a hunk of blue cheese, Tennessee's Kings of Leon seem to be getting better with age. Thankfully though, sublime maturity is all they have in common with a hunk of moulding dairy produce, as their newly found sound is remarkably fresh. Their third album kicks off with the spiralling, seven-minute marathon of Knocked Up, a tune that seems to be giving voice to Madonna's sprightly boyfriend in Papa Don't Preach, being a broody and brooding tale of a young man and his pregnant missus, defying his and her families.
Leaning even further toward a kind of post-punk meets prog rock aesthetic than on their first two albums, Nashville-based Kings of Leon have crafted a darker, less pop-oriented and somewhat cerebral affair with 2007's Because of the Times. In fact, if Alan Parsons lent the Allman Brothers his spaceship, Because of the Times would be the resulting space odyssey. While that leads to some intriguing moments, the general move away from strong, hooky choruses to a focus on expansive, intricate and percussive arrangements may challenge casual and even some longtime fans of the band's catchy, Southern garage rock twang.
The noticeable fade-out at the seven-minute mark of opener "Knocked Up" may be everything you need to know about Because of the Times. Where 2003's Youth & Young Manhood kicked in the stall all night, and Aha Shake Heartbreak jolted loose any notion of the proverbial sophomore slump with blue-collar, rock-star concerns – girls, dissolution, swagger – the Nashville quartet's third LP simply plugs in both guitars, bass, and drums and faces off against producer Ethan Johns. Half the rock canon is born out of jams, but capturing Southern young manhood at its tawny, tank-top peak smacks of Seventies touchstones by the Allman Brothers and Derek & the Dominos.