Review: Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull
Published on September 25th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Arriving like a prescription, Kings of Leon’s sixth album Mechanical Bull offers a fresh consignment of non-taxing, straight-down-the-middle, radio-friendly, ‘office Spotify playlist’ fodder for those who feel that they need more “indie rock” in their diet.
Mechanical Bull has its fair share of variety, at least on its mercifully un-stadium-y first side. However, it’s a superficial variety, one equatable with a wedding band declaring their next number to be “a bit of blues for y’all” while making suitable adjustments to their onstage demeanour and vocal style.
Oh look, there’s a “Be My Baby” rhythmic breakdown in opening track “Supersoaker”; you can almost hear the producer putting down his runner-fetched cappuccino and saying, “Hey guys, why don’t you try this?” before air-drumming it with a lightly tongued “dum…dum dum, TISH!”
“Hey yeah, everyone can enjoy that!” Kings of Leon would say, like an animated Red Hot Chili Peppers reacting to Krusty the Klown’s suggestion that the line “What I’ve got you’ve got to get it put it in you” be changed to “What I’d like is I’d like to hug and kiss you”.
To draw another Simpsons parallel, Caleb Followill still sings like an oversexed Cletus doing Steve Winwood at karaoke. Lyrically, we get the ‘dunce corner Stones’ likes of “I was running through the desert, I was looking for drugs / I was looking for a woman who was willing to love” on “Rock City”, on which Followill also declares “I break down like a woman”.
Er…eh? Regardless, it’s fairly mediocre pub rock; grey, flavourless and perfunctory music, the sound of the sweaty, artless groin-thrusting that apparently is what millions of people either want or have been conditioned into thinking they want. Perhaps we’re out of touch, but if this is ‘touch’ then we can live with it.
“Comeback Story” showcases a nice layer of harmonies then totally ruins it with the ‘humorous tweet’-appropriating chorus of “I walked a mile in your shoes / Now I’m a mile away, and I’ve got your shoes”. The dearth of inspiration is further evidenced by declarations in two separate tracks of “I’d take one in the temple” (“Temple”) and “I’ll take it all on the chin for you my friend” (“On the Chin”).
Perhaps next time we can expect a full album of blows that Followill would be willing to take on behalf of whomsoever, maybe even an interactive video game which allows us to administer those blows from the comfort of our own homes.
Remember when we described the first half of Mechanical Bull as mercifully un-stadium-y? That was to imply that the second half of it is mercilessly stadium-y, the kind of hideous vacuousness that inflicted “Sex on Fire” and “Be Somebody” on the world.
Hey, come on, we’re joking. We love it. Five quails out of five.
Mechanical Bull is out now on RCA Records.
Rocksucker says: One Quail out of Five!