March 5, 2021 Kings of Leon – When You See Yourself (Album Review)
Nashville Rock superstars Kings of Leon are back at it again with their newest release, When You See Yourself, available worldwide Friday, March 5th via Sony Music.
New music for a new age of music production and distribution, the Tennessee heroes are innovating a new style of payment called a non-fungible token, or NFT for short. Which, in this day in the age of Zoom meetings, seems to be a very current option and it comes with amazing perks, such as front-row tickets for life and audio visual art; perfect for the ultimate KOL fan.
A band all in the family, brothers Caleb Followhill (lead vocals, rhythm guitar), Nathan Followhill (drums, backing vocals), Jared Followhill (bass, backing vocals) and cousin Matthew Followhill (lead guitar, backing vocals) stormed the Rock scene in 1999 with a name also all in the family – Leon being their grandfather. Growing as a band, their Garage Rock identity became more apparent in their 2006 release Aha Shake Heartbreak, and continued through 2007’s Because of the Times, 2008’s Only By the Night, Southern Rock staple, 2010’s Come Around Sundown, and 2013’s Mechanical Bull.
Now four years since 2016’s chart topper WALLS, they are here to remind you that they certainly have not lost their touch; bending their sound again, on top of their mode of currency and amazing social media campaign to boot.
The album opens up with the title-track, starting with a slow guitar melodic pattern built to build intrigue, continuing into a strong synth twinkling sound that gives a smoky, sensual feel off the bat. As the first track, it’s certainly a good start. Next, the strong-fitting first single off the LP, “The Bandit,” released in January 2021, presents fast-tempo, gritty guitar. With the air of a cross between a 1950s Western and a 1980s style epic, it allows Followhill’s smoky, full vocals to soar between a strong chest belt and Little Richard-esque head tone.
Following suit in singles, “100,000 People” slows the tempo roll and gives more of an ethereal quality while tossing in a strongly stated synth beat; and the elements of Dream Rock/Pop are a nice twist in Kings of Leon’s repertoire. Moving forward, newly released single “Stormy Weather” is an instrumentally toned-down, hoppy track with classic muffled vocals and twang-style guitar licks; gritty and soft at the same time and a summer track, for sure.
Meanwhile, “A Wave” once again slows the roll with a soft beautiful chorus of backing vocals where the guitar takes the lead as Caleb contemplates loneliness before transitioning to a Cali-like instrumentation. Following suit, “Goldless Restless Age” is another moderate tempo track with echoing synth that plays similarly to the beachside vibes but with more guitar grit.
Continuing on with the soft beach waves, “Time in Disguise” has an Alt-Pop feel with wailing guitars and smooth transitions, while, in contrast, “Supermarket” starts out with a heavy bass hook and provides a melodic theme of laziness and relaxation. Then “Claire and Eddie” takes more of an acoustic approach, lyrically exploring the seasons of change.
Third single, “Echoing,” has a rolling drum beat and lures the listener into a Southern Rock dream state, entrancing its audience with constantly strummed, muffled guitars and seems like the epic ending track to an epic road trip. However, they close with “Fairytale,” crossing dimensions with the misty echo of the lead vocals, creating a dreamy, tranquil quality. Fading out with soaring orchestral sound with a heavy, repetitive bassline, this would be a great stadium closer when live entertainment returns, and as that seems to be on the horizon, maybe it will be heard in stadiums soon.
After four years of longing to hear from the Southern Rock gods, prayers have been answered but not completely in the way that might have been expected. Of course, Kings of Leon has a great ability to re-invent their sound on every album in little ways that listeners would not expect: first it was Rodeo Rock, then it was Southern Rock, then Echoic Pop Alternative, and now synth-driven Southern Rock. Adding synth to more of their tracks gives this new album an epic, echoing sound that people all over can appreciate, all while creating a sense of chill and ease—something that people need nowadays. With roaring cheers and happy, mellow heart, Cryptic Rock gives Kings of Leon’s When You See Yourself 4 out of 5 stars.