"Come Around Sundown," the fifth studio album from the Franklin, Tenn., quartet Kings of Leon, sounds more like a collection of B-sides than a true album. While the album may not be laborious to listen to, "Sundown" will not be generating the same interest that 2008's "Only by the Night" (multiplatinum with two top-10 singles) did. Musically the album is decent, but it lacks any kind of continuity.
The album opens, ironically, with "The End," which the band has said is meant to be an ending for "Only by the Night," and a way of easing into the new album. "The End" does have the same alternative sound as other tracks on the album, but it is extremely dull. It's an interesting concept but poorly executed.
"The End" is followed by "Radioactive," the lead single and a fervent Southern pride anthem. If "Radioactive" is any indicator of things to come, "Sundown" would be a return to the Southern rock-alternative hybrid sound of the band's early albums that gained them a cult following well before its mainstream success. A few "Southern" tracks follow (resembling "Only by the Night" and its predecessor "Because of the Times"); these are generally very forgettable songs, and it is highly straining to find the microscopic quantity of Southern influence. "Back Down South," easily the most "country" song on the album, sounds quite forced.
The majority of the latter half of "Come Around Sundown" sounds like B-sides of "Only by the Night." "No Money," "Birthday," "Mi Amigo," "Pickup Truck" and "Celebration" all feature indistinguishable characteristics from the previous album. The bass is heavily distorted, and lead guitarist Jared Followill plays powerful, yet interrupted, melodies, enabling frontman (and cousin) Caleb Followill to dominate the song with his powerful vocals, which perfectly contrast the subdued, yet passionate instrumentals. While the sound may be appealing, the quality cannot compare with previous releases.
It's not that the tracks of "Come Around Sundown" are bad, they just lack the same "X-factor" that gained them a fan base with "Aha Shake Heartbreak," or landed them great commercial success with the radio hits of "Only by the Night."
While the nature of Kings of Leon's sound may not make "Sundown" particularly hard to listen to, it clearly lacks the creativity and quality of its past releases. "Come Around Sundown" will not be remembered as a terrible album, but will not generate near the same sales and critical acclaim as "Only by the Night."
Alex Eaton is a junior at Clarence High School.
Kings of Leon"Come Around Sundown" (RCA)