Kings of Leon Update: OK, Maybe Only By the Night Is a Pretty Decent Record

Rocks Off is back with one final update on our continuing quest to understand/appreciate/give a damn about Kings of Leon before the Tennessee family quartet - sort of like the Statler Brothers with more Penicillin prescriptions - takes the stage at Toyota Center tonight. Doors are at 7, and don't miss opener White Lies.

We just finished listening to their latest two albums, and totally stand by what we thought about Because of the Times the first (and only) time we heard it when it showed up in the mail. With the - notable, true - exceptions of "Knocked Up," "On Call" and "Black Thumbnail," it's just a damn boring record. The songs are static; just Caleb Followill's marble-mouth vocals, some skittering guitar and light rhythm work. No dynamic peaks and valleys, or much of anything else, really. They came and went without leaving much of an impression at all, and several just trail off like the Kings got bored and decided it was time for another smoke break rather than sticking around to finish them.

Only By the Night, though, is a different story. The songs are generally the same tempo as Times - think self-admitted KOL influence the Pixies' "Where Is My Mind?" - but that's about it. There's much more layering and texturing of the various guitar parts, actual tempo shifts and turnarounds, while an angry buzz pervades the record - we heard it most on "Be Somebody" - like the band had something to prove.

Maybe they did, although Rocks Off doubts it was to prove they could make "frat boy douches," as our buddy Classic Rock Bob calls them, buy their music. Since we don't venture down there much, can someone tell us if there's one bar on Washington Avenue where, if you stay for an hour, you won't hear "Use Somebody" and/or "Sex on Fire"?

Be that as it may, Night is a mature, nuanced album, and light-years ahead of Times. We borrowed the MP3s from a co-worker, who we assumed "borrowed" them from the Internet, and can't quite bring ourselves to hit "Sync" on our iTunes just yet. But maybe after this evening we'll change our tune. The Kings certainly did.

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Chris Gray has been Music Editor for the Houston Press since 2008. He is the proud father of a Beatles-loving toddler named Oliver.
Contact: Chris Gray