The career to date of the Nashville-based quartet Kings Of Leon can be summed up as a steady ascent from their wilfully obscure country roots to an expansive, U2-indebted sound that filled stadiums. Many of their early fans shuddered at the shameless arena-rock of Sex On Fire and Use Somebody, the big singles from KOL’s 2008 album Only By The Night, fearing that the new album would see the Followills (three brothers and a cousin) abandon their roots entirely.
To the band’s credit, this hasn’t happened with Come Around Sundown. Instead of taking the megabucks that another Only By The Night would almost certainly have reaped, the Kings have taken an unexpected left turn into new territory. Disregard the disjointed, irritating first single, Radioactive: it’s one of the album’s weaker tracks. Instead, buddy up with The Face, an atmospheric ballad with a weirdly Joy Division-flavoured tone; The Immortals, which veers from a ska pastiche to anthemic choruses; and the summer-barbecue tones of Beach Side. It’s not all essential by any means: Back Down South is self-indulgent whimsy and Pony Up is a bass lick and little else. Still, the Kings deserve recognition for not disappearing up their own arses at this point, a fate which many predicted for them long ago.