After a hiatus that looked a lot like a band-ending breakup, the scruffy southern rockers Kings of Leon have returned with their first album in nearly three years. Mechanical Bull is an album examining maturity, with the simple yet rowdy sound that has sculpted the band’s place as one of the top revitalizing rock groups of the last century.
Since the band’s formation, the Followill brothers and their cousin have brought forward a string of fantastic albums that positioned them as a top rock act. With the capability of echoing through arenas, the band’s sound has always illustrated the perfect amount of soul, heartache and dirty rock ‘n’ roll.
With hefty similarities to both monumental rock records Because of the Times (2007) and Only By Night (2008), which both initiated real commercial success, Mechanical Bull returns the band to its sensational sound of a ferocious, family-style rock.
This album does not spin KOL into a direction of extreme ingenuity, nor does it stabilize it in the same mediocre style the band suffered from Come Around Sundown (2010). With the familiar impact of humbling-meets-impassioned vocals, the album celebrates a mix of old, down-home guitar melodies and new wisdom from the band’s falling out period.
The album’s high point comes from the opening track, “Supersoaker,” a riff-tastic, fast ballad with dueling guitars and the Otis Redding-like elegance that lead singer Caleb Followill thrives on. Further on, “Beautiful War” reveals a passionate glance of lost love through bluesy beauty, reminding fans of the singer’s outrageous ability.
Mechanical Bull’s greatest accomplishment is nothing miraculous. It reminds listeners of the family roots, lyrically and instrumentally, that got them where they are now (from “Last Mile Home”: “Things are always better / When we’re all together”), while not expanding substantially further past their original style of garage-rock-meets-Allman-Brothers-eque southern blues.
Above all, the album is a testament to a remarkable return for Kings of Leon. After a hopeless period of questioning the group’s chances of continuation, fans can relish in some solid new material that doesn’t stray far from their originally successful sound.
Have at it, KOL lovers.
MOVE gives Mechanical Bull 2.5 out of 5 stars.