Kings of Leon: Because of the Times


Since the release of their first EP Holy Roller Novacaine in 2003, the Tennessee quartet Kings of Leon have raised the bar with every subsequent offering. The full-length follow-ups, Youth and Young Manhood and Aha Shake Heartbreak, were primal blowouts of garage rock rev-up mixed with neo-southern gothic harmony, and they gave the band both notoriety and credibility. But from the opening moments of the band’s newest release, Because of the Times, Kings of Leon’s desire to continue to raise the stakes even higher is clearly evident.

The album’s first track, “Knocked Up,” clocks in at just over seven minutes, almost triple the length of the average Kings of Leon composition. As vocalist Caleb Followill explores the realities inset on a young couple expecting a child, his cousin and guitarist Matthew Followill echoes a refrain of parts reminiscent of The Edge’s work on Zooropa. The Pixies-esque bash of “Charmer” is next, and Caleb squawks and howls over the pounding rhythm section as the track blares with intensity that only the Kings of Leon can produce, pure and unharnessed as a windstorm.

As the album progresses, it shifts gears and dives deep into the reggae flavoring of “Ragoo”, a track that skillfully avoids all the tart pitfalls that the genre can produce. Perhaps Augustus Pablo it’s not, but under no circumstances is it No Doubt. The cool breeze of “Camaro” collides with the listener like sunlight collides on a dashboard, and its celebration of the adventurous spirit of youth re-
emphasizes what a landmark album Because of the Times really is. With any luck,  Because of the Times will eventually become the litmus test for other bands that, hopefully, will be given the same opportunity to naturally grow without the pretense of music as a disposable commodity. The album is a brash and unrelenting effort that remains humanely articulate to the very end.

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