I think it's funny that people are getting all bent out of shape over the supposed "selling out" of Kings of Leon, saying their new record sucks worse than that sucky one that sold a bajillion copies a few years ago. What these people are really pissed off about is that they fell for the hype when this band arrived early last decade.
This band was built on a backstory more than it was ever built on music, which developed relatively quickly and has now reached its fully realized and predetermined state. To any old-school Kings of Leon fan who thinks pre-rock-star KoL was ever any one of these things -- raw, garage, southern rock, indie, edgy, scrappy, shaggy, upstarts, hungry -- is a mark for the ol' starmaking machinery, which worked its black magic once again. Sorry you had to be that mark, old-school KoL fan.
Here's what KoL were back in the day: young and maybe a little unpolished. That's it. They were gonna be rock stars from day one. The Kings of Leon of yesteryear were a less-professional version of the KoL, circa 2010 and beyond. This so-called sellout record was already in the works even as you were talking about how your new favorite band, Kings of Leon, seemed like the kind of dudes who were always gonna keep it real, because they're not flavor-of-the-month pop stars like all the rest.
So what about the record itself? I don't know, what about it? It's neither good nor bad. It's neither an impressive musical statement nor the work of hacks. It's neither a commercial breakout or a last-ditch stab at relevancy. It is simply middle-of-the-road in every way conceivable -- highly listenable but profoundly uninteresting. It's going to sell millions, just as was fated a decade ago.
So, quit your griping, old-school Kings of Leon fan. These guys were never what you thought they were. Their handlers were too smart to let their charges ever be anything less than what they are, which is essentially the next U2.
Rotation: Low Deja vu: McDonald's cheeseburgers, the Toyota Corolla, The Eagles. I'd rather listen to: The new Arcade Fire, while not exactly my cup of tea, certainly is a lot more compelling. Grade: C.
"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.