It is difficult to determine when Kings of Leon stopped having fun. They were never the deepest group in the aughts rock revival, but they were the ones who accepted the most completely, dressing as the band of Almost known and live as an audition for one Behind the music special. Yet once they achieved their hard-fought stardom, the obligations of running a rock band as a major business undermined any residual freedom and impulsiveness in their music. Their records have swelled while the personalities behind them have diminished. It’s been 10 years since Kings of Leon’s last song No One Wants Karaoke, and the band are still chasing the shadow of their gigantic hits of the late 2000s.

The group’s eighth album, When you see yourself briefly teases what a winning Kings of Leon album could look like in 2021. Surprisingly light on its toes, the opener “When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away” is brilliant with ping polyrhythms. This is the most jubilant the group has sounded in years, and while it is not their normal course, it suggests that there might be a way forward to shamelessly robbing the happiest, painted corners of the world. contemporary alternative neon. This band has been old for so long, maybe it’s time they were young for once.

But When you see yourself is not that kind of album. It’s the only kind of album Kings of Leon still knows how to make, which is a minor variation of the last one, and the one before. The most, if not the only thing about this album is that it is the first album in history available in NFT, a crypto way to sell art and music online. Forget the south Strokes or the south U2. They have now spent most of their careers as a southerner postAntics Interpol, a band desperately clinging to a sound that no longer works, trying to write songs that fly away but are only capable of wallowing ones.

Lending to this unwelcome feeling of déjà vu comes back WALLS producer Markus Dravs, a Brian Eno disciple who designed records for Cold game and Arcade Fire. As a Grammy Submission For Your Consideration, her work is impeccable – almost every track sounds like an expensive technical feat. But in practice, his production rivals these songs more than it complements them, eclipsing them like skyscrapers oblivious to any lake views they may block. The mixture saves the worst of his anger for Caleb Followill, whose voice he continually finds new and cruel ways to bury. On “Fairytale,” Followill’s unloved howl is reduced to a stain of red wine trying to stand out on a busy carpet.

Followill was never an easily readable singer to begin with, but the audible lyrics put him in a sad mid-life rut. On “Time in Disguise”, one of the many tracks of the disc, desperately cosmic, launched at the tempo of the cut of the Coldplay album in mid-period, he cannot get rid of his own obsolescence: “Close your eyes and what do you see? / is it a man or a masked machine? Even more depressed is the country-colored “Supermarket”, where Followill promises “I’m not going anywhere, if you have time”. Followill is 39 years old, but from those songs you’d think he was making one of Rick Rubin’s end-of-life albums.

Does anyone want to hear from this band? While the early Kings of Leons albums left a lot to complain about – namely the loathsome sex politics of the 1970s – they had a night out energy between guys that could be contagious if you bought into a particular phantasmal notion of masculinity. When you see yourself, on the other hand, packs all the charity for a weekend at The Container Store. It’s hard to imagine the wild-maned first incarnation of Kings of Leon even wanting to listen to a band like this, let alone play one. In truth, their current iteration doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about it either.


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