Kings of Leon’s last outing, 2013’s largely forgettable ‘Mechanical Bull’, had the band on autopilot, the record essentially a collection of KOL 101s, the imagined result of pressing some kind of denim-clad Stadium Rock button and leaving the rest to chance. ‘WALLS’, for which they broke ties with longtime producer Angelo Petraglia in favour of Arcade Fire and Coldplay knob-twiddler Markus Dravs, is an odd one. It lacks the immediate bombast of either that last LP or 2010’s ‘Come Around Sundown’, but neither is it straight-up boring.
There’s a tiny hint of the irresistible garage rock that broke them back in the early 00s (though, admittedly with what sounds like some 80s wedding disco synths, and a slower tempo) with ‘Eyes on You’. ‘Over’ is a gloriously autumnal number, tugging at heartstrings with a hint of Interpol’s dark, post-punk leanings. Closer ‘WALLS’ broods prettily in its nighttime melancholy. Driving anthems in the making, these are not.
Then again opener ‘Waste A Moment’ sounds tired, ‘Around The World’ is cheesy (and not in a good way) with its calypso rhythms and attempts at a pop breakdown, and ‘Wild’ nothing more than filler. Refreshing as their attempts to break the monotony may be, what are Kings of Leon with no lighter moments, after all?