After their breakthrough fourth album, Only By The Night, Kings Of Leon followed it up with Come Around Sundown, which was a decent set, but definitely a stepdown from their spectacular Grammy-winning effort. It seemed as though maybe the band had peaked with Only By The Night, and they would just coast for the rest of their career. Well, think again. They’re back with Mechanical Bull, and it’s incredibly good. It makes me think way lesser of Come Around Sundown after hearing this new album.
This is a meticulously structured collection of music that’s exciting, varied, fresh, and fun. There are the midtempo tracks like “Wait For Me”, “Comeback Story”, and “Tonight” that showcase Caleb Followill‘s incredible vocals to please “Use Somebody” fans, but from there, the boys have a couple barn burner rock songs like “Don’t Matter” and “Coming Back Again”, and then a beautifully stripped down “Beautiful War”. Most surprising is how much fun that the band has on some tracks like the sunny lead single “Supersoaker”, “Rock City”, and the most pop the band has ever gone on the singalong “Family Tree”.
All these tracks are impeccably ordered on the album so you never get tired of one style. You get a slow ballad, then a full out rocker, then a song that leans towards pop. And of course, across the set, the band’s professionalism, great lyrics, and talent shines through. Rock hasn’t been great this year, but Kings Of Leon just picked up the slack big-time here. Mechanical Bull is one of the best albums of the year.