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Album Review: Mechanical Bull

Kings of Leon

By Joe Yanulevich
On November 12, 2013

For a while, it seemed that southern/traditional rock darlings Kings of Leon were toast. Rumors ran rampant that the band was splitting up. Thankfully, Kings of Leon quieted such troublesome talk by returning with their highly anticipated new album, "Mechanical Bull." Following up a mixed Fall 2010 effort "Come Around Sundown," "Mechanical Bull" has plenty of positives throughout its duration. To call the effort truly innovative would be an overstatement, but it is definitely Kings of Leon among their best.  Maybe a "Use Somebody" or "Sex on Fire" is missing from the mix, but there is plenty for the audience to sink their teeth into.

The album's high point comes from the opening track, "Supersoaker," a riff-tastic, fast ballad with dueling guitars and the soulful elegance that lead singer Caleb Followill thrives on. The song retains to the arena rock like presence that brought the band to the mainstream. The song attained the the band's chart topping success this past summer due to the likability of the guitar driven opening and Followill's crooning over what most guys can relate to, sentimental girls.

"Rock City" follows up with the signature southern rock sound that the band was built on. Followill sings on the catchy, easygoing refrain boasting about searching for drugs in the desert and "Shaking like a woman." A slow, yet upbeat song in a sense due to its guitar heavy overlay which eflects a bluesy element which is rooted from their southern heritage. A very bizarre yet intriguing song that reminds the listeners of where the band may have got their influence from. Sources say it was definitely not the desert.

Further on, "Beautiful War" reveals a passionate glance of lost love through bluesy beauty, reminding fans of the singer's outrageous ability as a singer. The song title is used compared to a relationship; a cliché, yet charming composition. A welcomed ballad in an album where upbeat, funky rock songs tend to dominate the positive qualities of the album.

The rest of the album is very low on lyricism but is saved by Followill's ability to mask the lyrics in his sultry southern voice. "Family Tree" is the album's irresistible highlight of the album past "Beautiful War." It starts with the band's driving funk rhythm - dark yet entrancing - just like Caleb's vocals, which are double-sung with a normal range accompanied by a low, rumbling growl. This obbled range is set to lure the listeners in during each verse until Followill hits it big with the erupting chorus.

"Mechanical Bull" claims to be the band's comeback story of an album. It may not be their biggest or best album but it is definitely a valiant effort to return to grace. It's not perfect by any means, but it is a soundly conceived effort that should please both fans and critics alike. Personally, I'm just glad one of my favorite bands is still a band and not living the clichéd rock band meltdown, breakup story.

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