Kings Of Leon – Mechanical Bull

Nothing more than Kings of Leon by numbers.

Label: Columbia

Rating: 5

Kings of Leon are very good at being Kings of Leon. They’re brilliant at standing there, all hairy and sweaty and testosterone-y, smouldering on one hand, rocking with the other in a way only those from the southern states of America can. They’re all denim and checked shirts, part country twang, part biker bar.

And Kings of Leon know this; ‘Mechanical Bull’ is almost comical in its levels of self-awareness, whether it’s the “I don’t know where I belong”message of ‘Rock City’ (no, really – they’re more the band from Almost Famous than ever before), the mid-paced stomp of ‘Temple’, or the boy-done-wrong themes of ‘Wait For Me’. In short, there are plenty of times to wave mobile phones aloft in stadia worldwide; a few others to weep or quote lyrics on Tumblr; many for the lads to hug on for at the end of the night.

It’s a shame, too. ‘Supersoaker’ seemed to suggest the band were on for a ‘well-the-first-two-albums-were-good’ kind of renaissance – but it’s the quickest tempo on show throughout the record’s whole eleven tracks. There is another shining gem – ‘Don’t Matter’ is almost QOTSA-esque in its desert-driven balls-out rock (imagine Marc Bolan in a Nevada biker bar or something equally implausible) and shows a few more of Caleb’s distinctive vocal tics.

But elsewhere it’s, well, more of the same. The same plodding, nodding, sort-of power ballad, sort-of acousticy bombast that’s undoubtedly set to fill the large spaces the band find themselves in, but does little to excite when removed from that setting and reduced to speakers in a room. Musically, perhaps, an American Snow Patrol. Lyrically, a complete mish-mash of cliches; references to sin, trying to get home, lemonade. “I walked a mile in your shoes / now I’m a mile away / and I’ve got your shoes” might raise a wry smile in ‘Walk A Mile’, but as a witty turn of phrase, it’s no Alex Turner.

There might not be a whole lot of ‘bull’ in ‘Mechanical Bull’, but there are definitely a lot of mechanics on play. Uninspiring, unexciting, largely forgettable – this is nothing more than Kings of Leon by numbers.