Having been a fan of Kings Of Leon since my early teens, I am sure I was not alone in my disappointment in their 2010 offering, Come Around Sundown, which seemed to lack the raw, visceral, brawl-in-a-deep-south-tavern power of their earlier work and appeared to be more a clumsy attempt to live up to their growing status as a ‘stadium rock band’.
However, Mechanical Bull sees the Tennessee foursome return in style, churning out a healthy serving of soaring anthems and grit to mark a change in direction to more self-aware, introspective music, perhaps prompted by the high-profile personal struggles of frontman Caleb Followhill in recent years.
‘Supersoaker’ opens the track listing, providing a substantial chunk of energy and catchiness to kick off proceedings, with a characteristically Kings Of Leon chorus. It’s followed by ‘Rock City’, another tune guaranteed to get toes tapping, despite its unavoidable cheesiness (well, it is called Rock City after all).
Another highlight of the album is ‘Temple’, which I found to be persistently trapped in my head for several hours after just one listen. ‘Comeback Story’ is another personal favourite, featuring the line: “I walk a mile in your shoes / Now I’m a mile away / And I’ve got your shoes“. Corny, perhaps, but the delivery and the accompanying music turn this track into something rather impressive.
If you, like me, have felt a little underwhelmed by this band in recent times, then you may well find that this album marks a refreshing departure from that. But equally, if you were a fan of Come Around Sundown, you’ll probably like Mechanical Bull too. This isn’t a return to the old days, nor is it a completely new sound; it’s simply a band that have undergone a not inconsiderable amount of turmoil and come out more mature and self-assured on the other side, with an album full of extremely satisfying rock songs. Definitely worth a listen.