In the 18 years that Kings of Leon have blessed us with their music, they’ve never disappointed. They’ve explored different genres from southern rock to alternative. They’ve provided us with slow, moody songs and arena anthems. There’s not much that the band can’t do. The 4-time Grammy winners have done it again with their eighth studio album, ‘When You See Yourself’ which came out March 5th.
The album was produced by Markus Dravs who the band have collaborated with before on Walls (2016), which was the last album the Nashville natives released. With the leading single ‘The Bandit’ which came out on January 7. The 11-track album features familiar Kings of Leon sounds and their signature southern rock, but it also explores smoother melodies.
The opening track, ‘When You See Yourself are You Far Away’ is very reminiscent of the band’s older tunes, it’s hopeful yet naïve with the notion that torn lovers could spend just one more night together then depart, “One more night, one more night will you stay here, one more night, one more night we’ll be safe dear”, this track sets the perfect scene for the rest of the album…
The second track ‘The Bandit’ and the lead single from the album reaches back to original Kings of Leon roots sound wise, but is vastly different lyrically, the song has a very good ‘driving in the sun’ vibe despite its dark demeanour, “And the hopes they all turn to fears” is sung with an electric sound in the background.
The band are experts at captivating dichotomies in their tunes, their third track 100,000 people isn’t a conventionally written song, it is pretty chaotic but there’s the same consistent beat throughout which perfectly captivates the meaning of the song. The song is about how life can change and everything around us can evolve, making us question, but the people we love don’t change in our eyes – they stay consistent, “the seasons change, my mind erase the stars all fade but one remains the same”.
The band go on to a more funk sounding beat on their fourth track Stormy Weather, which starts off with a calming bass later accompanied by the signature Kings of Leon guitar. The album then explores different, melodramatic themes with Wave which has an electronic sound and reminds us how good the band are live – the chorus has an infectious sound that would most definitely be sung along with at gigs.
With Golden Restless Age, the sixth track, the band manage to capture a happy and summery narrative, the song portrays moments in life giving off a ‘best of times but worst of times’ vibe with lyrics, “the golden restless age and time won’t turn the page, you’re only passing through a form of you”.
The band retreat to their southern rock roots in the seventh track Time in Disguise which has a calming sound, the song questions life and the world we live in: “Is the world I belong to just a shade of light? Is it just time in disguise?” and “bold distraction taking action, going where you’re led” conveying the sense that we are living in some form of delusion.
The albums eighth track conveys more serious concepts than the other songs, Supermarket explores addiction and the fear and sadness that can come with it, with lyrics to capture this feeling, “I’ll never be whole again until I get clean.” And “it’s a long hard road, till I can get to you, and I’ll be holding on hoping the sun comes shining through.”
The band then go on to make a political statement in the ninth song of the album Claire & Eddie. Statements like this have never been made by Kings of Leon before, but it’s an important landmark in both the album and their career. The song is slow and peaceful, but it is about the seriousness of climate change, they sing: “fires gonna rage if people don’t change,” “a story so old, still so original,” and “You’re getting pretty close, but you got a little ways to go.”
After a few slow and serious tracks, the tenth track on the album is wakes us up by retreating back to familiar Kings of Leon sounds, Echoing could be about how mundane life can be but having love can change any boring situation and add a touch of electricity into our lives – much like the song.
Finally, after the emotional and turbulent rollercoaster the album has taken us through from chaotic relationships to questioning life and the world around us to climate change the last track Fairytale finishes on a calming note. Don’t be deceived though, this is not a love song, this is a track that discusses false love and the end of a relationship, lyrics like: “inconsistent love masked in a fairytale” and “fall apart when the timings right” are sung.
When You See Yourself is reminiscent of the bands previous albums but also delves into something different. Both the music and the lyrics reflect on similarities from the bands older work, but there is something so original to this album too. Kings of Leon have done an exquisite job of providing fresh music but also keeping their signature sounds almost two decades later.
Words: Shannon Milmine