3 years after the release of their album Mechanical Bull, the Followill brothers and cousin, AKA Kings of Leon, are back with a new record, WALLS (We Are Like Love Songs).
This album is the beginning of a new chapter of the band’s career, as it is very different from the previous ones. Indeed, after some strong tensions within the band/family, the boys from Nashville decided to gather again in LA in order to start working on a new record to start afresh and do something completely different from what they had done so far. New studio, new producer, and new sounds: this project was quite ambitious.
Without further ado, let’s start with the good points of this record.
Caleb’s vocals & Jared’s bass lines
Caleb Followill’s voice is one of the most beautiful voices I’ve ever heard and is probably what made me love the band in the first place. As usual, it is perfect in this record. The song that best brings it out is Conversation Piece, a wonderful and touching ballad the singer wrote for his wife, which is, in my opinion, the most beautiful song on the record, along with WALLS, the most perfect song I’ve heard in a while. It is so exquisite that it gives me chills every time I listen to it.
As for his younger brother Jared, the bass lines are really good. As a bassist myself, I think Jared’s always been a great bass player, and I think he’s done a pretty good job on this record. I’m thinking about All Around the World as an example, a funky song that is pretty different from what Kings of Leon had done so far but that suits them quite well.
A well-balanced mix of signature sounds and Pop influences
When I first saw the album’s artwork, I fell that I was going to hear some pop influences for sure. And to be honest, I was a little bit afraid of the result, because for me, Kings of Leon have nothing to do with pop music. I know that we shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but as a record’s artwork reflects its content, I had this impression right away. Actually, when I first listened to the album, I didn’t really recognized the band, but the songs that I hadn’t heard as singles have been growing on me since then. After listening to the whole album several times, I can actually notice some influences from the previous albums. Let’s take the example of one of my favourite songs on this record, Find Me. In my opinion, this song could have featured in Mechanical Bull, the band’s previous record that came out in 2013. This song perfectly reflects the band’s wish to incorporate new sounds without changing their identity drastically, as it mixes well both Kings of Leon’s signature guitar riffs and the use of vintage synths, instruments the band hadn’t used on their previous albums.
Little cracks on the WALLS
However, although Kings of Leon is one of my favourite bands, saying that the whole album is perfect would be lying. While some songs I didn’t really like in the beginning have been growing on me, a particular song still doesn’t work for me, Over.
The main reason why I don’t like this song is because for me, it doesn’t sound like Kings of Leon and they can do so much better than that! In my opinion, this song doesn’t bring anything to the record because when I listen to it, I feel like I’m listening to a loop that goes on and on and on. Nathan’s drums patterns and Jared’s bass lines keep repeating themselves, and for this reason, there’s a clear lack of contrast between the verses and the chorus. Furthermore, Caleb’s voice isn’t brought out enough, as the notes are quite the same during the entire song, except at the end, when he finally reaches higher ones.
Another reason why I don’t like Over is because it reminds me of Arcade Fire, a band Markus Dravs, Kings of Leon’s new producer, has worked with. And the problem is that I don’t really like this band (Arcade Fire fans, please don’t hit me). By working with a new producer, the band wanted to step out of the comfort zone they had gotten into when recording Mechanical Bull, which is actually one of my favourite Kings of Leon albums. I understand that the band needed to start afresh and try new things, but a song like Over doesn’t work for me as it doesn’t suit the band.
I also have the feeling that this song came totally out of the left field, as it has nothing to do with the rest of the album. In my opinion, a good record is a record that tells a story and whose songs come one after the other in a smooth and natural way. The record starts really well with excellent songs such as Waste A Moment, and suddenly, Over kind of spoils everything, especially since it comes right in the middle of the album. I’m not saying that Over is a bad song in itself. I’m just saying that it’s doesn’t work well as a Kings of Leon song.
In a nutshell, I wouldn’t say that WALLS is an exceptional album as others are way better. But I still think the band did a good job. Once again, the Followills managed to show how talented they are and will never stop surprising us.