Kings of Leon Steps Up Its Game on ‘Walls’
Southern alternative rock band Kings of Leon delivers an exceptional seventh album with ‘Walls.’
After a three-year hiatus, alt-rock collective Kings of Leon returns with seventh LP, Walls. Kings of Leon fought for years to gain relevancy in the mainstream. Only by Night gave them their breakthrough, earning Grammys in the process. After achieving success that long eluded them, the expectations are greater. Walls exceeds the expectations without questions. The Followill boys stepped up their game.
“Waste a Moment”
Opener “Waste a Moment” is about rebelliousness and being carefree. The female protagonist being a “ticking time bomb, time bomb gonna blow us all away.” Her boyfriend is “a live wire, wire, shooting sparks in the night.” The production work is exuberant and enthusiastic in quality. The groove is fantastic, while the guitars sound particularly exceptional. Caleb Followill delivers powerful, clear vocals. The chorus serves as a highlighting:
“Oh, take the time to waste a moment / oh, facing where the lines are broken / oh, name a price to all this living / oh, never ask to be forgiven.”
“Reverend” has nothing to do with a sermon – it honors country singer Blaze Foley. It is distinct from the band’s previous songs, which makes it refreshing. While soundly produced, the main selling point is Followill’s gritty pipes. Lyrically, at times, “Reverend” is challenging. This makes it even more intriguing. The lyrics on the verse are poetic, with Followill painting dark, captivating imagery.
“I got caught in the middle of a hurricane fight facing the ground / Beast to the wild with the porcelain smile as it passes around…”
The up-tempo, groovy “Around the World” isn’t a retread of the past. It does, however, possess some familiar characteristics of the band – namely the riffs. Nonetheless, it’s an electrifying, crowd-pleasing record. The chorus is its best attribute. The music isn’t too shabby itself.
The driving groove and rhythmic guitars of “Find Me” latch instantly. Despite consistent intensity, the verses are cooler, benefiting from being chill. By the chorus, Followill is fully amped, grittily asking, “How did ya find me? / How did you find me / what are you looking for, are you looking for?” The best characterization for “Find Me” is infectious.
“Over” ranks among the crème de la crème of Walls. The record is moving – truly chilling. Kings of Leon haven’t clearly provided the meaning behind “Over,” but the lyrics reference death, potentially suicide or some tragic happening. Followill is clearly affected, singing on the second verse, “I face the music / you write the scene.” Although it’s lengthy at six minutes, it’s worth ever last second.
“Muchacho” continues to find the band experiment beyond tried-and-true. Early on, the Spanish influences of the record shine through. In regards to timbre, “Muchacho” is gorgeous. The contrasts continue on “Conversation Piece,” which is groove-driven, but at the same time, relaxed. The only rub – “Conversation Piece” sits ever too long. Still, the groove is inescapable and the harmonic progression simple, yet perfect.
“Eyes On You” prudently picks up the pace. Initially, it comes off merely good or average, but as it progresses, its magic shows itself. Once more, the chorus shines, despite lacking substantial depth or poetic lyrics:
“If you don’t like it, then try it / you don’t like it / then try it / oh, I believe it when I see it / I believe it when I see it.”
Penultimate number “Wild” is respectable but eclipsed by better songs. Title track “Walls” concludes the album beautifully. The lyrics are a bit hard to follow, making it somewhat open-ended.
All in all, Kings of Leon deliver on Walls. The album easily eclipses the band’s previous two LPs, Come Around Sundown and Mechanical Bull. Tweaks in sound and more daring experiments pay off for the Followills.
Gems: “Waste a Moment,” “Reverend,” “Around the World,” “Find Me,” & “Over”
Kings of Leon • Walls • RCA • Release: 10.14.16
Photo Credit: RCA