The abominable excess, these days, of impatiently made music that sounds just too darn similar made me wonder if there is anyone who can vie for the role of classic in the years to come. What with teenage ‘rockstars’ being chugged out by unicorn-land TV, and music videos that are more ‘runway’ than ‘music’ anyway, the prospect doesn’t look too promising. But there are a few artistic melody-makers still, thankfully. Kings of Leon – definitely one of them (God bless those Followills).
I’ve been listening to their last studio album since it came out in 2008, and not an inch of daylight sneaks into it. You don’t need to know what it’s called in order to tell what it’s about. It’s about night, it’s about love, it’s about all those daylight defences of yours peeling like old wallpaper come night. The vocals have an indelible pleading, thirsting feel to them. They’re night-creatures, these four. It’s like they took moonlight, vulnerability, highways and headlights, stretches of sleeping sand, and the crab that scuttles away from you when you light a match, and put it all under a giant, black microscope. But there is hardly anything inert about this music. It’s not the lullaby-like pushing-of-the-cradle kind of welcome for the night, it’s so charged with an energy bordering on frenzy.
I read that the album title, ‘Only by the Night’, is – in fact – from somewhere amidst Poe’s vast, icy factory of mind-boggling chills. Even better! Art meets art. Put in an Edward Hopper painting showing the strangely inviting, artificially lit up interior of a diner, fluorescent lights trying to keep the night at bay, and you’ve got nocturne in a nutshell.