Album Review: Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull (RCA Records; 2013)

BY MICHAEL DEVLIN

Mechanical Bull largely follows what’s gone before in the Followill clan’s repertoire. Two years ago, fans feared the worst as the band was on the brink of breaking up yet the Kings regrouped, rejuvenated and, evidently, re-recorded. Most of the trademarks are present; the expansive atmospheric Americana and grandiose stadium rock hooks that identify the band now so easily. This is less a ‘comeback story of a lifetime’, but more a band effortlessly slipping back into a familiar groove.

The first single, “Supersoaker”, is the kind of anthem that Kings of Leon seem so adept at churning out, as is shimmering single number two “Wait for Me”. The initial tracks offer up doses of sleaze, funk, soul and blues-rock that show the band enjoying themselves musically again.

There is plenty of schmaltz too. “Beautiful War” is a five minute ballad that trundles along to Caleb singing of love and love lost. The trademark sound is at its widest here, and live performances suggest this is another ‘lighters in the air’ moment similar to the final track on their fourth album Only By The Night, “Cold Desert”.

After a strong start, the album finishes somewhat weakly with the macho sensitivity and guitar roominess having been wrung dry towards the end. Bonus track “Work on Me” is a gem though, evoking the sort of cool American heartland image and vibe that Kings of Leon are synonymous with.

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