Amid the myriad alternative releases that look to Brits like Joy Division or the Clash for inspiration, Nashville four-piece Kings of Leon’s Only by the Night hones a no-frills American rock sound decisively more meat-and-potatoes than apple pie.With songs conjuring trips along dusty back roads or, at the very least, a night chalking up pool cues, Only by the Night doesn’t veer far from the southern-fried rock Kings listeners have come to expect. Each subsequent album picks up where the last left off, evolving just enough to keep us interested.
Tracks like “Sex on Fire” and “Crawl” deliver straightforward rock with a nod to the ’70s in their distorted riffs. While the minimal opening “Closer” highlights the power of Caleb Followill’s rough-around-the-edges vocals, the Kings of Leon are at their best when Followill bends his voice toward the sentimental and the lyrics follow suit, as in “Use Somebody” and “Cold Desert.”
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