Kings of Leon

Only by the Night (RCA)

Phases & Stages

Kings of Leon

Only by the Night (RCA)

Three LPs and a pair of EPs since 2003, and now with their fourth album, Kings of Leon have upgraded from vintage Camaro to Hummer. Only by the Night sounds every bit Achtung Baby, but confirms suspicions about individuals who would drive such a vehicle. Opener "Closer" strobes a sonic upgrade to the Tennessee quartet initially hailed as one-third trinity of Southern rock's renaissance. Drive-by Truckers and My Morning Jacket have similarly experienced compositional erosion, and like the latter, Kings of Leon here depend on a major label production budget rather than hooks. Caleb Followill's nasal yelp remains totally disarming, but the stupidity of "Sex on Fire" douses all credibility. With midpoint "Revelry" comes a satisfying Southern humidity in Penthouse forum "17" and "I Want You," but a messy arrangement torpedoes "Be Somebody." 2007's Because of the Times also boasted style over substance. Stop getting bad haircuts, Caleb. (Kings of Leon sold out Austin Music Hall, Saturday, Oct. 25.)

*.5

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