Kings of Leon’s WALLS: What You Need To Know
After six albums and some 13 years on from the raw, bluesy garage rock of their 2004 debut Youth & Young Manhood, Nashville four-piece Kings of Leon have grown into a stadium-filling behemoth with a reputation for big, roaring anthems. This week they return with their seventh studio album, WALLS. Here’s all that you need to know…
A little background…
The band’s last album Mechanical Bull arrived in 2014 on the back of a hiatus brought on by the fatigue of relentless touring. They’ve been hitting the road hard again since, playing shows on a run that extended from February 2014 until March last year. By then they were ready for a break, but began working on its follow-up by the end of 2015 and following a New Year’s Eve show in their home town at the beginning of the year. The band announced that they were well into pre-production for album seven. Looking for a change of scenery, the band headed back to Los Angeles, where their first two albums were made, to begin recording what would become WALLS.
Who’s producing it?
This time around the band have elected to work with Markus Dravs, whose list of production credits includes two albums for Coldplay and three for Arcade Fire, as well as a diverse list of others from Bjork to Brian Eno.
Any special guests?
Nope, it’s just the Followill family going it alone here, but then they’ve never really been ones to pack their records with guest appearances.
What does it sound like?
If the decision to go back to the city where they made their first two albums was in an effort to strip back their sound to something more akin to their earlier records, the place where this is most evident is on ‘Waste a Moment’ and ‘Eyes On You’, which sound closer to their debut than anything they’ve done for a while. That said, you don’t sign up a producer like Markus Dravs if you’re aiming to make something lo-fi and grungy, so as far as the rest of the album goes, on songs like ‘Reverend’ they’re back to their stadium-filling anthems. There are tender moments too though, like the title track and the lilting ‘Conversation Piece’. ‘Around the World’ is another big anthemic tune, but one with jangly guitars that owe a little to Johnny Marr’s work in The Smiths, while ‘Muchaho’ is a country-tinged diversion that slows the pace.
Does it deliver?
There are no radical departures on WALLS, but it feels does feel looser and somehow more free than Mechanical Bull, which was like their first five albums condensed into one statement. Fans will love it, no doubt, and if you’ve followed their career to date without finding an album you didn’t like, there’ll be no change here.