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Accuracy • Independence • Integrity

October 20, 2017   |   Ithaca, NY

Life & Culture

Review: Kings of Leon ‘WALLS’ succeeds with stunning sound

Kings of Leon

"WALLS"

Kings of Leon revives its Southern rock and blues–influenced sound in its seventh studio album, “WALLS,” short for “We Are Like Love Songs,” released Oct. 14. Most of this album shows off the band’s true potential since the group returned to its roots and produced an album of substance and depth.

The members of Kings of Leon took a break in 2011 when they realized they became business partners who generated chart-toppers instead of bandmates who focused on music and family. For this album, the band wanted to revive its original classic-rock sound and hired a new producer, Markus Dravs, music producer for Mumford & Sons and Coldplay, to help. Though the band made some questionable decisions with some songs, “WALLS” is a quality album that Kings of Leon can add to its roster.

The band’s first single on the album, released Sept. 9, is also the album’s first track. “Waste a Moment” is a high-spirited and energetic song about a Bonnie-and-Clyde couple. Lead singer Caleb Followill reminds listeners to take time to embrace moments throughout their daily routines and hectic schedules through lyrics like, “Oh, take the time to waste a moment/ Oh, face it where the lines are broken/ Oh, name a price to all that’s living/ Oh, never ask to be forgiven.” This song may remind listeners of the band’s previous hits like “Use Somebody” or “Sex on Fire.” It’s a fun song, but it sounds more like its previously commercialized hits and not the genuine songs the group aimed to produce in this album.

“Conversation Piece” is an emotionally raw track that begins with heavy percussion and light electric guitar before it proceeds into a synthesized chord composition with mellow vocals. Followill articulates his vocal talent with a mix of deep vocals and tasteful falsetto. The lyrics tell the story of the band’s decision to change its scenery while producing the album. The members of the band thought they may find inspiration in the group’s past and recorded “WALLS” in the city where they recorded their first two albums: Los Angeles.

Latin percussion behind an acoustic guitar creates a surprising change in sound in the track “Muchacho.” Unfortunately, this instrumentation change feels awkward and out of place with other tracks on the album. The track “Eyes On You” is stale and very run-of-the-mill. Overpowering percussion, repetitive guitar lines, a generic synthesizer melodies and monotonous vocals creates a distasteful and boring track.

The vocals on the title track are honest and humbling, and the piano-heavy and acoustic guitar instrumentation strengthen the song’s sound of heartache. “WALLS” is a song of defeat, as if someone is ready to wave the white flag and surrender. It acts as a powerful second single because of its vulnerability and strong vocals.

The album may have its highs and lows, but “WALLS” shows off a much more sophisticated and humbling change to the ever-talented Kings of Leon.

Ashley Wolf can be reached at awolf2@ithaca.edu or via Twitter: @@ashleyjcwolf