Album Review: When You See Yourself by Kings of Leon
Fairly Good, Based on 5 Critics
Sputnikmusic - 80 Based on rating 4.0/5
Are you far away? Are you ashamed? Because you shouldn't.
I would be lying if I'd say I have never lost the wig jumping, kicking and screaming to the beat of "Sex on Fire" in secret parties across the tiny little clubs that blossom from the labyrinthic whirlwind of debauchery that is Tokyo's night life. At the time, I had just arrived in the city in the summer of 2009, leaving a tumultuous break up and economical mayhem behind, which was scored almost accidentally by "Use Somebody", a song I abused unabashed during the whole ordeal, which lasted almost a year. I had no idea who these good-looking chaps from Nashville were, nor I didn't care.
For many, listening to a new Kings Of Leon album these days is about as exciting as listening to a new U2 album (make of that what you will). When a band is this big, the margins between success and failure are so small that it seems like nobody knows whether they’ve released a great album or a poor one. Their albums tend to receive middling reviews loaded with lukewarm praise, with nobody really willing to stick their neck on the line and describe why X album is any better than Y album, and even fewer willing to compare it to their finest work with any real conviction.
Kings Of Leon have nothing left to prove. The Followills have built a 20 year catalogue, one that has taken them from the whisky-soaked precocity of youth to their current status as Southern rock's genial gentlemen. 'When You See Yourself' is by its very title a journey of self-analysis, and it finds the band returning to their roots only to locate fresh paths forward.
It's hard to pinpoint when Kings of Leon stopped enjoying themselves. They were never the most profound band of the aughts rock revival, but they were the ones who bought in most completely, dressing like the group from Almost Famous and living like an audition for a Behind the Music special. Yet once they achieved their hard-fought arena stardom, the obligations of running a rock band as a major enterprise sapped any residual freedom and impulsivity from their music.
As the early '10s bubbled and brewed with a changing world, the chest-out, rooster calling road-weary band began to find their way into maturity, and with such came a more subdued sound; one meant for lazing on beaches and enjoying life. All well and good, but eleven years past this turning point, things have remained stagnant. In a larger period than from their conception to their dramatic ascension, Kings of Leon have explored minimal territory which doesn't exactly beget excitement.