"Radioactive"

Lesser men than the Kings of Leon might follow up an arena-rock blockbuster like 2008's Only by the Night with a scrappy bid for street cred — something akin to the horny garage rock of their early days, perhaps. But the Followill boys have as much reverence for street cred as they do for wheat beer and William Tecumseh Sherman. The first single from their forthcoming fifth album is a rough beast that loads up on atmospherics without scrimping on ass-shaking potential or big, soulful ache. Caleb Followill dials up his bleary, ragged voice to Springsteen-level, growling about baptism and not forgetting your roots over a space-mountain jam that suggests the Allman Brothers produced by Brian Eno. A gospel swell appears toward the end of the song, upping the Jesus power. But as with everything the Kings of Leon do, the hot grind of the groove suggests that true redemption lingers in darker quarters.

Photos: Kings of Leon's Family Album