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Kings of Leon

Mechanical Bull (RCA)

Reviewed by Doug Freeman, Fri., Oct. 4, 2013

ACL Music Fest 2013 Saturday Reviews

Kings of Leon

Mechanical Bull (RCA)

Now rolling into their second musical decade, the Followill clan has perfected its brand of Southern rock to the point of hook-laden arena anthems. Yet as 2010's Come Around Sundown demonstrated, they also revel in unraveling radio expectations even as they exploit them. The Nashville quartet's sixth LP finds the sweet spot. Unloaded at the outset, "Supersoaker" and the gutter-swaggering "Rock City" roar against the raw rip of "Don't Matter," melding the impulsive energy of Youth & Young Manhood with the bombast of Aha Shake Heartbreak and commercial appeal of Only By the Night. That's when the U2 pull of "Beautiful War" calms the tempest, then swells into the melodic coil of "Temple." Despite gritty boogie on "Family Tree" and the chiming "Last Mile Home" lapsing a bit too playfully, "Tonight" howls with expectant ache. Mechanical Bull kicks up a tightly controlled disc that still leaves enough roots unpolished. (8pm, Samsung Galaxy stage)

***.5

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