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Kings of Leon WALLS
Released 14 October 2016
Producer Markus Dravs
Label RCA
Length 42:42
Genre Rock
Website kingsofleon.com

WALLS (or We Are Like Love Songs to give it its full, ridiculous title) is the seventh studio album from Kings of Leon. Perhaps sensing the need to reinvigorate, early talk was of trying to recapture the atmosphere of their first two albums recorded in LA. To bolster the reboot of sorts, Grammy Award winning producer Markus Dravs is brought on board, a clever move given his work with similar top tier bands like Coldplay and Arcade Fire.

Initial experiences are positive; 'Waste A Moment' is like an up tempo 'Use Somebody' complete with the "oooh" laden chorus, 'Reverend' kicks off with an Arctic Monkey’s sounding guitar intro and contains a biting chorus akin to their early days while 'Around The World' has a Razorlight feel to it, all jangly guitars and sliding bass. It feels familiar, recalling the early ‘00s where guitar bands like The Libertines, The Strokes, Interpol and indeed a budding young Kings of Leon were making edgy, dirty, indie rock.

Things get a little drab from here; 'Find Me' is energetic but, with a chorus that completely misfires, it lacks a sufficient payoff. Clocking in at six minutes ‘Over’ should be renamed overlong, a good two and a half minute song needlessly stretched out, starting a run of three slower songs that sucks the momentum out of the album. The third song in said run is the ironically titled 'Conversation Piece', the least memorable song on the album. Sandwiched in between is 'Muchacho' with its Latin percussion and South American charms, of the three it’s the only one worthy of a place on the album in its current form but still suffers by association to its neighbours.

The tempo picks up again for 'Eyes on You' and 'Wild', two perfectly serviceable tracks in their own right but not enough to kick out of the malaise caused by the album’s second act. Album closer and title track 'WALLS' is a subdued affair; mostly acoustic guitar and piano driven while some simple percussion and bass keep time. It’s a strange ending, it just kind of peters out for the last 50 seconds, no final crescendo, and you’re left wondering if that’s all there is to it.

The album cover shows doll-like heads of the band members half submerged in a white liquid. Is it a band re-emerging energised or is it a band just doing enough to stay afloat and remain relevant? Probably closer to the latter; they’re clearly still able to write the big songs but it’s the low key numbers that are the let down here.

- Brian Kinsella