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.
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It’s their first major UK headline tour in five years.
An album that, though not without its fillers, feels like they’re having more genuine fun than they’ve had in years.
Their new album arrives next month!
Friday, friday, gotta get the best new music this week on Friday…