‘Walls’, Kings of Leon’s seventh album, is a minor revival from a musical hangover the Tennessee rockers have struggled with ever since ‘Only by the Night’ took them to international stardom way back in 2008.
And like the band’s other post-08 efforts, ‘Walls’ carries with it a certain feeling of divided attention, almost like the Followill’s aren’t sure if they should aim to recapture the hearts of long-term fans or chase new ones. Yet perhaps paradoxically, this album also has a certain freshness to it that the fifth and sixth albums lacked. And all of the songs come equipped with stadium-filling choruses designed to be barely audible over zestful masses of fans.
The album covers familiar ground with opener ‘Waste a Moment’, which could easily have been found on their last record, before stomping through a hotchpotch of tracks consisting of upbeat and simplistic love jangles and their antitheses. In fact, ‘Walls’ almost sounds like two albums in one. ‘Around the World’, ‘Find Me’, and ‘Eye on You’ show the band’s more fun side; that they aren’t taking things too seriously. ‘Reverend’ and ‘Muchacho’ on the other hand are the unembellished narratives of a much darker side (the latter being about a friend who died), whereas the fan-favourite ‘Over’ provides the revealing and fascinating epitome of Caleb’s naked song writing.
Kings of Leon consistently do two things: release an album with a five syllable title (‘Walls’ allegedly stands for ‘We All Like Love Songs’), and save one of the most impressionable songs for last. The title track is no exception. It is a powerful lyrical ballad, with Caleb’s vocals interpolated only by the screeching echoes of Matthew’s signature guitar, even if in some parts it sounds a little like it’s trying too hard.
This all makes for a solid Kings of Leon album. Perhaps they are still looking to re-orientate after their success in 2008, but then again, perhaps they are just being Kings of Leon.