Imagine after two previous albums of rip-roaring, blues inspired rock n roll, without an almost unintelligible vocal accompaniment and content surrounding sex, drugs and debauchery… and then when you throw on their brand new, third album, released on the 2nd of April 2007, you hear the gentle rumblings of the worlds favourite American alternative rock group, and their brand new sound.
When Kings Of Leon returned with ‘Because Of The Times’ they presented us with a very different sound. For some, the first idea of this would have been track one on the album, the smooth, steady but utterly beautiful ‘Knocked Up’ which introduced a very new aspect of Kings Of Leon that we’d not really seen before. For most though, it was probably the lead single from the album ‘On Call’ which again, was a much steadier and much more sentimental track than we’d really seen before. Sure there’d been examples like ‘Milk’ from the second album (‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’) and even the amazing bonus track and title track for the Kings Of Leon documentary, ‘Talahina Sky’ from the first album, but this new album seemed a little heavier on the down tempo tracks than ever before. Now we’ve mentioned this point many times before and I’ll mention it again now, because this was, undisputedly, the beginning of the trend. Kings Of Leon have been a rather polarising band ever since the release of ‘Because Of The Times’ because many existing fans, not just of the band but of the genres of alt-rock and indie rock just didn’t like it. The difference was too stark and the character they once held, seemed to have gone. This was then exaggerated by the commercial success of their fourth album and really, the style and sound they’d began to project in 2007, continued on and manifested itself as commercial rock or stadium rock, turning off lot of fans and allowing many others to jump on this bandwagon. No, if I’m mentioning the point again, I’ll also mention that I don’t subscribe to any of that and being a witness and a fan during KOL’s evolution, progression and growth has been a pleasure and ‘Because Of The Times’ remains one of my favourite albums of theirs as they bridge that gap between their early years, and the juggernauts of the music industry we now know. ‘On Call’, ‘Knocked Up’, ‘True Love Way’ and ‘The Runner’ are still some of my favourite tracks and I still enjoy them today.
The album isn’t all ballads and sentimentality though. I mean track two on the album is the outrageous and brutal ‘Charmer’, featuring sporadic screams against gritty guitars. ‘Fans’ is a glorious anthem aimed at the people that changed their lives and keep them on stage. ‘Camaro’ is another stand out with screaming lead guitar and a great example of Caleb’s gruff vocals.
I always think you can tell a lot about a person by how they feel about Kings Of Leon, so show your friends this Throwback Thursday review and see how they react… You may just figure out your friends more than ever before.
Words by Stuart Green (@mojo20_music)