Since Erin's working out of the office today, I've taken the opportunity to have myself a little Kings of Leon marathon. I'm shuffling around Youth & Young Manhood (their debut), Because of the Times (their swing at the fences), and Come Around Sundown (their most recent record).
I admit, it's beyond funny that pigeons shat on the band, but the KOL backlash is one that I will never, ever understand. Seriously, what's not to like?
The main rub against the band is that they're sellouts, that they went on arena and stadium tours with Pearl Jam, Bob Dylan, and U2 and thought to themselves, "How the hell can we get back here?", then went into the studio and made it happen.
Yes, it's a quantum leap from the dirty rock of their sophomore album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, to the arena rock of Because of the Times. I don't hold that against them. I applaud them. Are there bands in this country who do not want to play venues larger than the Crocodile? The Moore? I don't think so. But there are plenty of bands who feign interest in widespread commercial success, and try to disguise their intentions by tepidly reaching for the box office (see Cold Ward Kids' latest, Mine Is Yours).
KOL went for the arena and got there with GOOD MUSIC. "Black Thumbnail" has to be considered among the best arena-rock tracks of the decade. The rest of the record will hold up, too. Come Around Sundown and Only by the Night may not be as strong, but they're hardly the shameful plea for stardom they're made out to be. There's nothing wrong with being ambitious, especially when it results in show-stoppers like "Camaro," "Fans," and "Mary."