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Kings of Leon: Come Around Sundown

 A l b u m   D e t a i l s

Label: RCA Records
Released: 2010.10.15
47:26 / 14:25
Category: Garage Rock, Southern Rock
Producer(s): Angelo Petraglia, Jacquire King
Media type: CD double
Web address: www.kingsofleon.com
Appears with:
Purchase date: 2012
Price in €: 1,00

 S o n g s ,   T r a c k s

[1] The End (Kings of Leon) - 4:24
[2] Radioactive (Kings of Leon) - 3:26
[3] Pyro (Kings of Leon) - 4:10
[4] Mary (Kings of Leon) - 3:25
[5] The Face (Kings of Leon) - 3:28
[6] The Immortals (Kings of Leon) - 3:28
[7] Back Down South (Kings of Leon) - 4:01
[8] Beach Side (Kings of Leon) - 2:50
[9] No Money (Kings of Leon) - 3:05
[10] Pony Up (Kings of Leon) - 3:04
[11] Birthday (Kings of Leon) - 3:15
[12] Mi Amigo (Kings of Leon) - 4:06
[13] Pickup Truck (Kings of Leon) - 4:44

Bonus Deluxe Disc:

[1] Celebration (Kings of Leon) - 5:03
[2] Closer [The Presets Remix] (Kings of Leon) - 4:51
[3] Radioactive [Remix featuring West Angeles Mass Choir] (Kings of Leon) - 3:29

 A r t i s t s ,   P e r s o n n e l

Caleb Followill - Lead & Backing Vocals, Rhythm & Acoustic Guitar, Clavinet
Matthew Followill - Lead Guitar, Synthesiser, Piano, Wurlitzer, Lap Steel, Backing Vocals
Jared Followill - Bass, Synthesiser, Piano, Percussion, Xylophone, Omnichord, Backing Vocals
Nathan Followill - Drums, Percussion, Backing Vocals

Jacquire King - Engineer, Producer, Percussion, Backing Vocals
Angelo Petraglia - Producer, Hammond B3 Organ, Wurlitzer
Liam O'Neil - B3 Organ, Baritone & Tenor Sax, Synthesiser, Piano
Robert Mallory - Fiddle, Assistant Engineer
Krish Lingala - Saxophone, Synthesiser, Theremin
Chris Coleman - Trumpet, Backing Vocals
Mike Kezner - Sitar, Maracas
Ken Levitan - Management
Andy Mendelsohn - Management
Scott Clayton - Booking
Peter Nash - Booking

Brad Bivens - Engineer
Mike Rooney - Assistant Engineer
Richard Dodd - Mastering
Brett Kilroe - Art Direction, Design
Geoffrey Hanson - Design
Tina Ibañez - Design
Dan Winters - Photography
Ken Levitan - Management
Ken Weinstein - Publicity
James Hopkins - Publicity
Andy Mendelsohn - Management
Peter Nash - Booking

 C o m m e n t s ,   N o t e s

Recorded in February-June 2010 at Avatar in New York; Blackbird in Nashville, Tennessee.

2010 release, the highly anticipated fifth album from the American Alt-Rock heroes. Come Around Sundown was recorded in New York at Avatar Studios and produced by Angelo Petraglia and Jacquire King. The album is the follow-up to the hugely successful Only By The Night, which sold over six million copies worldwide and garnered four Grammy Awards and two Brits, and is yet another bold and expansive statement by the Nashville, Tennessee-based quartet.

In the run-up to Kings of Leon's fifth album, frontman Caleb Followill fretted publicly over his band's swelling popularity. Sorry, dude: That horse left the barn a while ago. The Kings' last album, 2008's Only by the Night, sold 6.5 million copies worldwide, they now headline arenas all over, and the Grammy-grabbing "Use Somebody" has been covered by everyone from Paramore to Trey Songz. If Wilco and My Morning Jacket are vying for the title of America's Radiohead, Kings of Leon have — Bono's honorary green card notwithstanding — become our U2. And the gigantic-sounding Come Around Sundown suggests that, Caleb's humble grumblings aside, they are thriving on it.

Listen to "The Face," a slow-fuse power ballad that conjures a stadium full of singing fans and slow-turning mirror balls. Or "The End," where the band's once lean and scrappy guitar sound becomes an Edge-like tsunami. But the Kings' personality hasn't been lost in the supersizing — the group manages to tweak its sound several times over. The fiddle-spiked "Back Down South" heads into dark backwoods-kegger territory. "Mary" flirts with doo-wop, mating pop falsettos with Matthew Followill's punk-glam rawk riffing. "Pony Up" is an itchy funk tune that surprisingly recalls Talking Heads.

Caleb's voice, meanwhile, remains a thing of slithering, boozy Tennessee beauty. Witness "Birthday." It's a slinky rocker in the spirit of 50 Cent's "In Da Club," except there's no club, shawty's nose is bloodied, and Caleb is walking her home, stumbling, laughing and spilling drinks along the way. Down-homey and over-the-top, "Birthday" recalls the Kings' gruff-sounding garage-rock days. But it's just a glimpse in the rearview by a band with its foot on the accelerator.

Will Hermes - October 18, 2010

Kings of Leon have always acted like rock & roll royalty, even before Only by the Night went platinum in 12 different countries. What started off as good-natured posturing turned into the real deal in 2008, though, when “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” helped redefine the Followill boys as the new champions of arena rock. Gone were the songs about transvestites and coked-up supermodels; in their place were Top 40 anthems that swung for the fences, armed with U2-sized guitar riffs and giant, lighter-hoisting choruses. Releasing that sort of album -- the kind that soccer moms blast in the family minivan -- has its downside, too, and Kings of Leon found themselves struggling to prove that they hadn’t forgotten about their older fans. All of this makes Come Around Sundown the most important album of the band’s career, since it gives Kings of Leon a chance to choose which side of their audience they’d like to keep.

The answer? Well, none of these songs are as blatantly commercial as “Use Somebody,” but none have the artsy, Appalachia-meets-London charm of Aha Shake Heartbreak, either. After touring in support of Only by the Night for two years, the guys are acutely aware that loud, booming anthems are the best way to fill a stadium, and Come Around Sundown is engineered to sound as immense as possible. Nowhere is this more evident than in Caleb Followill’s choruses, most of which seem to revolve around sustained high notes, and Matthew Followill’s guitar lines, which split their time between moody textures and cyclic, reverb-heavy riffs. The few diversions from that template are some of the album’s best moments -- “Mary” sweetens the band’s sound with a little doo wop, and “Beach Side” focuses on casting a mood rather than creating a spectacle -- but they’re too scattered to change the "go big or go home" mentality, and the twangy “Back Down South” (which soared during the band’s mid-summer 2010 tour) never quite leaves the ground in its recorded version. All detours aside, this is super-sized, guitar-driven, modern rock pomp, a sort of Only by the Night: The Sequel aimed at those who prefer their KOL songs big and bombastic. Kings of Leon haven’t gotten to the point where “Use Somebody” is their default setting, but it has become their benchmark, and Come Around Sundown attempts to replicate that song’s success while still giving the middle finger to Top 40 radio. Sometimes, it works. Other times, Kings of Leon sound like they’ve flatlined their sound while trying to streamline their appeal.

Andrew Leahey - All Music Guide

Nuke the fridge. Jump the shark. Hurdle the monkey. Whatever. There inevitably comes a moment in a huge band’s career where they lose their common touch and become slightly ridiculous. With [a]Oasis[/a] it was Noel Gallagher visiting 10 Downing Street – then releasing ‘Be Here Now’ a few weeks later. With [a]U2[/a] it was splurging millions on an overblown feature-film, Rattle And Hum.

And [a]Kings Of Leon[/a]? They lost their cool the instant they unleashed the ‘Radioactive’ video. A monumentally misguided affair, it was shot in the style of a Center Parcs ad, and found the Followills frolicking with a phalanx of beaming black children. It felt enormously phony, and made many of us wonder if the band had genuinely gone a bit nuts.

Then again: was it such a disaster? In a weird way, ‘Radioactive’ boded well for their fifth album, the follow-up to the eight-million-selling ‘Only By The Night’ – a record so successful it achieved the ultimate accolade: one of its songs was covered by Pixie Lott. After all, music is lacking in cartoonish personalities right now: we could do with a few space-cadet rock stars who’ve utterly blasted off from reality.

After all, if KOL were capable of a flight of fancy like the ‘Radioactive’ video, perhaps their next album would be a grand, maximalist folly, laden with gongs, harps and male voice choirs. What price an avant-garde odyssey that consisted entirely of Caleb Followill whacking a slab of meat and barking into a flugelhorn? It’d be a talking point.

But no. ‘Come Around Sundown’ is none of those things. It’s not a leftfield swerve. It’s a stately modern rock album that’s so desperate to prove its own authenticity it forgets to be remotely moving. This is music designed to be blasted from drive-time FM radios, and to waft around arenas big enough to have pigeons nesting (and shitting) in the echoing rafters.

Sonically, it consolidates the band’s gradual shift from ramshackle charm to clean-lined grandeur. Guitars twinkle and shimmer, rather than scratch or chug. The album contains one indisputably great song: ‘Back Down South’, a beautifully subtle country-rock stomp that showcases [a]Kings Of Leon[/a]’s knack for conjuring sonic drama from the simplest of ingredients: for the first two and a half minutes it’s just one bass note and one chord.

That track, combined with the going-back-to-your-roots theme of ‘Radioactive’ (“It’s in the water, where you came from”), would suggest ‘Come Around Sundown’ is all about the band reconnecting with the Southern soil after the rootless hedonism explored on ‘Only By The Night’. Fine. That’s a good subject. Trouble is, they don’t see it through.

Caleb Followill has admitted he ad-libbed the lyrics (“I free-floated everything”). In other words: he was on auto-pilot. The frontman always had a conflicted relationship with his own voice. On early albums he deliberately sang indistinctly to obscure the fact his lyrics didn’t mean anything. The point is: he overcame that on ‘Only By The Night’. Say what you like about ‘Sex On Fire’, it is at least about something: a transcendent one-night stand.

‘Come Around Sundown’, though, represents a return to opacity. Witness a song like ‘The Immortals’, which finds Caleb stretching out those trademark grizzled vowel sounds. “Ride away?” “Right away”?. Something about a rooster? Who knows – he could be singing about Subbuteo in Elvish and we’d be none the wiser.

Ultimately, too many of these tunes are rehearsal room grooves in search of a hook. They’re clearly meant to convey a sense of wide-open highway: the feeling of a band cruising in effortless fourth gear. Actually, it just sounds like they’re spinning their wheels.

5 / 10

Luke Lewis - October 15, 2010
www.nme.com - ©1996-2015 Time Inc. (UK) Ltd.

If you had to single out a band as the embodiment of everything supposedly small-stakes and emotionally bankrupt about indie rock culture, who would it be? I imagine you wouldn't pick the almost painfully sincere and Billboard-topping Arcade Fire, but you're not Caleb Followill. Despite Only By the Night's elevating Kings of Leon from self-imagined superstars to actual superstars, Followill has spent the leadup to the release of Come Around Sundown in attack mode, throwing ill subliminals at Richard Reed Parry (the dude with the helmet), preemptively turning down Glee, and calling their breakout hit "Sex on Fire" a "piece of shit," the message being "look at these effin' hipsters, we're the real deal." Aw-shucks posturing aside, KoL have always been savvy about how they position themselves, and this is a classic political move: galvanizing a majority with a sense of victimhood.

But after hearing Come Around Sundown, here's the thing about this "us vs. them" tactic: I don't believe it, in large part because I don't think Kings of Leon do either. Come Around Sundown indeed feels like an awfully political work of art, though it's not necessary falling into the philosophy of red state/blue state. Rather, Kings of Leon themselves come off like jaded and wearied political lifers who've finally realized what it takes to win the game they're playing: That compromise is an end, that saying nothing at all is often saying the right thing.

Those sort of mixed messages permeate Come Around Sundown. The rise of Kings of Leon has coincided directly with their ability to be compared to U2, and just as you suspect they follow fame with a loose, modest comedown album pumped up to stadium status grandeur against its own will. At its core, first single "Radioactive" is a pleasingly aerodynamic piece of radio rock, a two-note bass riff giving an alley-oop to the most emphatic, hollering hook on Sundown. So why the gospel choir on the chorus? Well, that's just what the biggest of the big do, and the staggeringly exploitative video uncomfortably suggests the idea of it as soul-by-osmosis. Duly acknowledging the midnight tokers, "Mary" is full of headslap, "Sweet Leaf"-deep metaphors. Meanwhile, "Birthday" is a barstool rabble-rouser on first glance, but it's little more than an exhibit for what's become the stock characterization of women on Kings of Leon songs, namely, the kind of mythical, hell-raising maneater who still manages to make her submissive victim sound misognystic. Fact is, even if Kings of Leon sound almost nothing like the guys who made Youth & Young Manhood, they still have no trouble recognizing the archetypes that trigger an immense sense of self-satisfaction from people who insist rock achieved perfection in 1974.

At the very least, the powerfully encoded titles of "Pickup Truck", "Beach Side", "Back Down South", and "Mi Amigo" aren't a real indication of what they deliver-- though there's the occasional pedal steel and fiddle sigh, Kings of Leon stop shy of the "we're a country band now" pandering that prolonged the careers of Bon Jovi, Kid Rock, Jewel, and Darius Rucker. But even if they did overemphasize their Tennessee twang, these songs in particular call out Come Around Sundown for lacking the lowest common denominator of all pop: hooks. Even if this still packs amphitheatres, what are the crowds suppose to sing along to? At this point, you should no doubt be used to Followill's bizarre accent, which sounds wholly averse to enunciation, but tonally, he remains one of the most grating singers in rock. Regardless of what incarnation of KoL you're talking about, the vocals should have depth, warmth, or swagger, but Followill lacks grit, instead gilded with a squeaky, mewling edge that is unwisely amplified by featuring him punishingly high in the mix at all times.

A shame, really since KoL do have their charms-- the rhythm section is often agile, inventive, and propulsive when the tempo allows it, and like the similarly positioned Coldplay, there are hints of a wellspring of eccentricity that they haven't been able to fully tap into. But as in political debate, nuance is rarely acknowledged and incremental progress is often mistaken for none at all when it comes to bands at this level. You're either in or you're out, and for some reason people tend to think that being against Kings of Leon is akin to being against drinking whiskey or getting laid. That's not necessarily Kings of Leon's fault, but Come Around Sundown is, and it ends up being no different from a lot of the phony populism in the air these days.


Ian Cohen - November 5, 2010
© 2015 Pitchfork Media Inc.

Before we get to its musical contents, let us linger over the sleeve of the Kings of Leon's fifth album. The leaves of a coconut tree hang languidly in soft focus, while on the back, the Tennessee quartet themselves stand on the sands, gazing out towards what looks like a tropical sunset. It looks like something released in 1975, covered in the imagery bands once used to telegraph their ascendance to the rock aristocracy and send out the message: we are rich, we are famous, we've swapped the dank air of Aylesbury Friars for the kind of places people like you will only ever get to see when the Bounty hunters go searching for paradise in the ad breaks during World of Sport.

Of course, receiving those kind of messages from bands eventually provoked otherwise reasonable people to do things like spit at each other and listen to Sham 69, but perhaps we should allow the Kings of Leon their moment of glory. Their last album, 2008's Only By the Night, sold more than 6.2m copies. They have ascended to the kind of mainstream popularity once chucklingly characterised by Noel Gallagher as the point when "all the dickheads start buying your records", where one review of Come Around Sundown can unironically complain that it is "unlikely to prompt any stag-night singalongs like Sex on Fire", as if having your big hit aggressively bellowed at a dead-eyed East European table-dancer by a bunch of pissed, hooting City boys with their ties wrapped round their foreheads was somehow a desirable state of affairs, rather than one that might cause you to immediately consider the benefits of shift-work in a call centre.

And therein, apparently, lies the problem. "You know what happens when all the dickheads start buying your records?" Noel Gallagher gleefully continued. "You become a multi-millionaire!" But not everyone reacts so unequivocally to their attentions. Despite the aura of moneyed, leisurely contentment Come Around Sundown's sleeve and title attempt to conjure, it is unmistakably the work of a band who recently described their biggest hit as "a piece of shit" and their teeming fanbase as "not fucking cool", and whose pronounced case of the Serious Musicians led them to turn down a request to use their music in Glee. That kind of dissatisfaction with mainstream success is never going to seem anything less than churlish, but it can be a spur to great things: a reckless, Kid A-ish artistic statement that spurns commercial considerations in favour of unbridled creativity. Here, however, the Kings of Leon have largely chosen – albeit through audibly gritted teeth – to stick fast to the Bono-approved stadium rock that caused Pitchfork to dub them Y'all 2.

There are few sounds in rock more self-evident than a band not enjoying themselves, and so it proves. There's something workmanlike and contagiously weary about The Face and The Wave as they trudge joylessly along. You hear all the same sounds that powered Sex on Fire and Use Somebody – the echoing, Edge-like guitar, the reverb that makes everything sound like it's already booming around a vast sports arena – but nothing to match their dizzily uplifting choruses: the single Radioactive is about as good as it gets. The words are as awful as you might expect from the band responsible for Sex on Fire – a song that on close inspection evinced not the smooth talk of the sexual athlete, but a combination of leering and clumsiness that somehow made you think of Paul Danan struggling to get a bra off – but they're shot through with what sounds like misery at the lot of the multi-million selling rock star. "Once the show gets started, it's bound to be a sight to see … I don't want to be there holding on," croaks Caleb Followill on Pyro, before apparently comparing himself to a "little shaken baby", the latter a prime example of the discontented multimillionaire rock star's favourite pastime, Laying It on a Bit Thick.

Occasionally, the gloom lifts, usually when the band shift away from the stadium-rock blueprint: The End features a lovely little solo piano coda that's more enjoyable than anything that happens in the preceding four minutes; decorated with slide guitar, Beach Side manages to sound laidback. Alas, they don't shift anywhere vaguely resembling a reckless, Kid A-ish artistic statement that spurns commercial considerations in favour of unbridled creativity. Instead, there's Back Down South, which has a fiddle and whooping and a lyric about drinking beer and sounds like mainstream Nashville country-rock, or Mi Amigo, a saxophone-decorated 70s plod on which the unwelcome spectre of Paul Danan and his troublesome bra strap makes a reappearance: "I got a big old dick." All of which leaves the Kings of Leon in a difficult, precarious position: a band who've established, in a rather passive-aggressive way, that they don't want to make the music that made them famous any more, but haven't really thought what they want to do instead.

Alexis Petridis, 14 October 2010
© 2015 Guardian News and Media Limited

Come Around Sundown is the fifth studio album by American rock band Kings of Leon, released in Ireland, Australia and Germany on October 15, 2010, followed by releases in the UK on October 18 and North America on October 19. The official album covers and tracklist were revealed on September 3. The lead single, "Radioactive", along with its accompanying music video, premiered on September 8, on the Kings' official website. The following day, it received its official radio premiere on Australian radio.

The album debuted at number one in Australia, Austria, Belgium (Flanders), Canada, Germany, Ireland, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. In the UK, the album sold 183,000 units in its first week as well as breaking the record for biggest first week digital album sales by selling over 49,000 album downloads. It was the 11th biggest selling album of 2010 in the UK with 694,300 sales. On November 30, 2011, the album received a nomination at the 54th Grammy Awards for Best Rock Album.

Come Around Sundown has received mixed reviews from critics. Sampling 27 reviews, the review aggregator website Metacritic gave the album a weighted average of 64/100. It received the same metascore as its predecessor. Rolling Stone magazine placed Come Around Sundown at #18 on their list of the Best Albums of 2010. Q Magazine also placed the album at #25 on their lists of the 50 Best Albums of 2010.


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