By: Nick Chidiac / October 20th, 2016
The fruit of a band’s search for the inspiration that once propelled their fuzzy, slightly southern take on alternative rock, 2016’s WALLS continues Kings of Leon’s trend of producing safe, yet very solid work on their way to an enjoyably L.A. translation of their Nashville-born sound.
While it’s safe to say that there are no earth-shattering revelations afoot, the band whose last album, Mechanical Bull, received a Grammy nomination for Best Rock Album, seems to tap into the same vein of Los Angeles flavor that produced their first two records. With this added element, WALLS, which stands for We Are Like Love Songs, makes for a polished collection of more melodic pieces that, when played in the designated order, fir together like a puzzle that vibrantly portrays a laid-back California landscape. The album starts off with its lead single, “Waste a Moment”, an anthemic representation of Kings of Leon’s graduation from the more obscure sound of songs like “Molly’s Chambers” and “Knocked Up” to the more vaguely worded radio charmer that they embody today. With a catchy hook that anyone can relate to, it’s a much smoother version of the sound which once garnered them the moniker “the southern strokes”.
However, WALLS has not entirely abandoned the wildness of records like 2004’s Aha Shake Heartbreak, just toned it down into a sort of glowing Chili Peppers type feel, in that age and mellow vibes have sort of chipped away the rawness without sacrificing its soul. “Around the World” not only shares a name with an RHCP classic, but it even sounds like it has a little John Frusciante flare to it. Couple with the dynamically light mood of “Wild” and “Find Me”, it makes for a fun contrast to some of the more balladesque tracks on the album. These peaks and valleys transition from one to the next almost seamlessly, a result of smooth production work that completes the composition nicely.
Overall, WALLS achieves that quality of tunes that we’ve come to expect from Kings of Leon. Without stepping too far out of their comfort zone, the veteran recording artist have further established their status as one of the most consistent acts going today. And, whereas 2014’s Mechanical Bull drew more from the band’s rougher roots, this latest release, the seventh in Kings of Leon’s catalog, is a little closer to the days of “Sex On Fire” and 2008’s Only By the Night. It’s a worthy addition that fans will enjoy and will almost certainly challenge for a spot atop the American airwaves.