By: Bill Clifford
Because Of The Times is the third full-length from this Tennessee-bred rock quartet. Since 2005's widely acclaimed Aha Shake Heartbreak, the brothers Followill - Nathan, Caleb, and Jared, along with cousin Matthew - went on the road with the likes of Bob Dylan, U2, and Pearl Jam. The time between recordings has produced a polished, radio ready album with the potential to launch Kings Of Leon to the same superstar status in their homeland that they've already achieved across the Atlantic.
Times is filled with big, sweeping, anthemic arena rockers, beginning with the seven-minute opener, "Knocked Up," a southern rock opus about teenage pregnancy and rebellion. Producer Ethan Johns (Ray LaMontagne, Ryan Adams) again joins the Followills in creating their beefy rock sound. Mellow bass and drums are the bricks and mortar of this song, which builds to raging, wailing loud guitars and thunderous pounding on the skins. The peaks and valleys of this song will no doubt easily lend themselves to a movie or television soundtrack.
The squeal of biker friendly "Charmer" seamlessly gives way to "On Call," the rhythmic, rollicking lead single. The repetitive chorus is balanced nicely by Caleb's sweetly melodic vocals, layered organ swells and driving riffage. "McFearless" packs on machine gun fast drumming while on "Black Thumbnail" the guitars take center stage. "Ragoo" is an easy fit for rock radio that finds the narrator caught with his pants down. Throughout, there's tales of youthful exuberance and gleeful emotions running amuck culminating in "Arizona," a graceful love ballad with atmospheric synth swells as big as the state itself.
While lacking the southern soul of the Black Crowes, Kings Of Leon more than make up for it with garage rock swagger. Because Of The Times is a slick, masterfully produced, mature CD likely to introduce them to a larger audience.
JamBase | Tennessee
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