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Rhythm & Views

Kings of Leon

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Kings of Leon may be treading water. Since the band's inception, the gang has cultivated and nearly monopolized the Southern garage-rock genre--with no apparent plans to change. That said, the band's recent opening slots for U2, Pearl Jam and Bob Dylan have had some effect, because a noticeable anthemic sheen pervades Because of the Times; this gloss is actually ideal for the group. Yet, those who dismissed them as the "Southern Strokes" will likely be further repulsed by this current amalgamation.

Still, perhaps even detractors may be intrigued by the seven-minute opener "Knocked Up," a baby-mama drama with chirping guitars and Caleb Followill's forlorn yelps. Meanwhile, vamping rocker "Charmer" and scuzzy ditty "My Party" are visceral and enjoyable Muppet rock (you know, the kind that Dr. Teeth and the Electric Mayhem blasted).

The single "On Call" is a scintillating listen with its hazy shimmer and rolling bassline, destined to fill large, cavernous spaces; elsewhere "Black Thumbnail" is a perfectly synched mélange of Caleb's strained vocals and barroom debauchery backing. The doo-wop tinge of "True Love Way" pleasantly twists its chugging rhythm through reverb, while "Arizona" is a sweetly meditative and elegiac mid-tempo closer.

Although the group's lyrics--never their strongest point--can still use some work ("She stole my karma oh no / Sold it to the farmer oh no," from "Charmer"; apparently, they paid no attention to Dylan's lyrics), Kings of Leon have finally struck a nice balance between their garage ways and stadium aspirations.

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