http://assets-s3.rollingstone.com/assets/images/album_review/5542326460e7404cbaf68b025fe15bad3602304c.jpg Only By The Night

Kings Of Leon

Only By The Night

RCA Victor
Rolling Stone: star rating
Community: star rating
5 3 0
October 2, 2008

Free from their strict Pentecostal father, Kings of Leon's Followill brothers (plus cousin Matthew) spent their first two records establishing themselves as horny Nashville youngsters with a neo-garage-rock style that got them tagged as the "Southern Strokes." Nowadays, the Kings are feeling a different sound: Like last year's Because of the Times, Only by the Night is long on astral, arena-ready largeness, with blippy keyboards, droney guitars and whoa-oh-oh backing vocals. Frontman Caleb Followill cranks up his Allman Brothers howl, turning out big choruses with sometimes tough-to-parse lyrics and deep-feeling melodies reportedly influenced by pain meds he began taking after shoulder surgery. The revamped sound doesn't always work: Cuts like the slow-burning murk-fest "Cold Desert" feel like sub-John Mayer soul — bland and overly ponderous. But when the Kings find a gussied-up groove with teeth — like the effects-laden Zeppelin stomp of "Crawl" or the pulsating, New Wave "Sex on Fire" — they sound like rock heroes experiencing the joy of well-manicured sound.

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