Track-By-Track Album Review: “Only By the Night”

Artist:  Kings of Leon
Album:  Only By the Night
Year:  2008

kings-of-leon

Grade:  A

The latest CD from Kings of Leon has rocketed the band into the mainstream. The question is: Is this CD so good that the band is deserving of the fame they now have?

Track 1 – Closer
We are immediately met with a ghostly melody that starts out slow until the first words hit us. “Stranded in this spooky town.”  The song tells a story of a man stranded in a purgatory-like state because how a woman left him. The music constructed relays the emotion behind the lyrics of the song. When I listen to this, I can actually feel the singer’s pain, I can feel his anger, and his hopelessness. This song is one of the most powerful songs that I have heard in a long time. If this song is a glimpse into what’s to come throughout the whole CD, then I am in for one hell of a ride.

Track 2 – Crawl
This track is more upbeat than the opening song. It has a soothing rock rhythm that is sending the message, “that we have to keep a move on.”  It’s a good song you could run to. This song is sort of a follow up or perhaps a precursor in the story-line from “Closer”, where our character, if you will, is threatening to “walk away” because of the girl’s actions. This track isn’t as good as the first, but it’s a solid follow-up.

Track 3 – Sex on Fire
This is the hit single that really has a lot to do with the fame of the album as a whole. Having been familiar with this song before hearing it on the album, I already had an impression of it, but I’ll try to ignore that to focus on it’s place on the album. This song seems out of place from the rest in the album.  It’s a song about pure animal urges. Appropriately titled, “Sex on Fire,” it tells of one man’s experience while having sex. It’s about longing and about desire, and a really fun song to sing along to. This song is the reason I bought the CD, but so far the first song has this one trumped in quality.

Track 4 – Use Somebody
The fourth track starts off hitting you in the face with some music with what sounds like voices calling out from a distance. Then we hear the first lines of the song, “I’ve been roaming around. Always looking down at all I see, Painted faces fill the places I can’t reach.  You know that I could use somebody.” Which I interpret to mean that he’s looking for somebody in all his loneliness. The chorus to this song is “use somebody” over and over…but it is extremely catchy. It’s not so much the lyric, but the way he sings it that makes it so effective.  He puts a ton of inflection throughout on the two words. I really like this song, it has a certain rhythmic tranquility to it that just makes it very enjoyable to listen to… and its fun to sing along as well.

Track 5 – Manhattan
Immediately when this song starts I begin to bob my head. I don’t know why but this song just makes me dance, which I guess is appropriate because the first line is “We’re going to dance all night.” The one issue I have with this song is the way it’s sung.  I can’t really understand the lyrics for the most part, but all I know is that plain and simple,  it is a fun song.

Track 6 – Revelry
After three more upbeat tracks,this song brings the tempo back down. The whole mood of the song is very mellow; it’s the kind of song I feel people would lay out on the beach to. I can just see a music video of this song where a bunch of younger adults go for a drive in California with the top down and the wind blowing in their hair as they make their way to the beach for a day of fun in the sun. That’s how this song feels.

Track 7 – 17
This is quite an interesting song. I’m not sure if the music doesn’t fit the lyrics or if it’s perfect for it. Something that I’ve noticed throughout the CD so far is that the singer really gets into singing these songs. You can feel sincere emotion behind his voice and he constantly strains his voice while singing as if he’s almost about to cry. This song is a prime example of that.  You can feel how much emotion he has through his voice, which in a way takes away from the music surrounding it.

Track 8 – Notion
At this point we are eight tracks deep and I haven’t wanted to skip a single track. This CD is really impressing me for its listen-ability. Track 8 is no different… this song has an interesting fast-to-slow pacing. The chorus is “Don’t knock it, don’t knock it,” another catchy hook that you can sing along to.  If there was one criticism I could say about the lyrics for these songs, it’s that they’re just simple and catchy, not complex. Normally I would say that it’s a bad thing to write songs like that, and it is to a point, but what it lacks in lyrics the singer makes up for in emotion.

Track 9 – I want you
I hear cowbell!  This song is another slow one, but it’s a bit more story-based. It is about a guy and a girl meeting, going out together, and falling in love. At least at first that’s what it seems like, but then if you look closer it’s about sex. About how a girl was unfaithful with another man but he still wants to take her back, but only to use her.

Track 10 – Be Somebody
Okay, so I listened to this song about ten times before writing the review of this track. This is by far my favorite song of the album.  It just starts out with a visceral drum beat, one that you can run to. The lyrics are calling out someone, perhaps calling out the singer himself. The chorus breaks out with the lyrics “Given a chance I’m going to be somebody”, it’s a song about mistakes, and faults… but through all that it’s about the hope to be better… to be somebody. I really like this song.  It just gets my heart pumping and my fist pounding. I highly recommend this song above all others.

Track 11 – Cold Dessert
This is the slowest song on the album. I find it interesting that they chose to end the CD with this song, but nonetheless it’s what they did. This song is very easy listening.  But if there is any track I could skip I guess I would pick this song.  It’s not that the song is bad, it just feels a bit flat compared to the rest of the album.

Overall, this album is like a rock version of easy listening music, which I happen to like very much. I highly recommend “Only By the Night” because I feel you get your money’s worth with it.  So to answer my question above, are they deserving of the fame?  My answer is yes.

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2 Responses to Track-By-Track Album Review: “Only By the Night”

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