On 5 March, the southern rock band Kings of Leon released their latest album When You See Yourself via RCA Records. The record was recorded at Blackbird Studios, in Nashville, Tennessee, and is quite a pleasant comeback from them after five years. The album contains musical influences that come from the Nashville scene. The unique fact about When You See Yourself is that it’s the first record ever released in the form of a non-fungible token.
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There are two major musical genres that dominate the sonic identity of the record: alternative rock that you can hear in songs like “The Bandit”, “Golden Restless Age”, and “Echoing”; and several songs with pop elements like “Stormy Weather”, “100, 000 people” and “Fairytale”. In terms of lyrics, human relationships are the focal point.
“When You See Yourself” is the first track of the album and here’s where the record takes off. It has a great intro, then Caleb Followill’s vocals and the guitar riffs lead the song. The added reverbs and delays blend really well. As I mentioned, “The Bandit” is an energetic tune with a strong rock flavour of raw guitar sounds and fast paced, powerful drums played by Nathan Followill.
“100,000 people” is a smooth one. It contains nice synth tracks and a very elegant, yet expressive bass sound. The electronics are dominant and contribute a lot to the song’s mood. It is melancholic, yet lucid, and because of the reverbs, synths, and the often used major seven harmonies, it has a sort of dreamy atmosphere. It sounds like a mixture of Pink Floyd and Radiohead.
“Stormy Weather” has catchy lead vocals and melody, and a poppy rhythmic pulse, cheerful and positive vibes for the ears. Slide guitar techniques are used that are combined with distancing reverbs, it’s definitely a song that I would listen to after a bleak winter.
“A Wave” is led by a piano, and reverbs and delays are also well used. They support the sonic identity of the song, along with the use of the major seven chords.
“Golden Restless Age” has more rocky guitar riffs. Matthew Followill did a great job on this one and Nathan Followill’s drums must be mentioned too. Even though it has a low sounding snare that could make it poppy, the drums do also sound really energetic and solid. It’s great work and perfect for driving.
“Time in Disguise” has rocky guitar sounds too, but the drums give listeners a poppy rhythmic pulse. Although Caleb’s vocals are quite powerful, credit should be given to the front man on this one.
“Supermarket” has a smooth bass line, once again demonstrating the talent of Jared Followill. The drums’ sound matches the mood: it’s rather melancholic; and reverbs again play a major part in its sonic identity. Also nice vocals.
“Claire & Eddie” has the same dreamy atmosphere that characterises the rest of the album. Reverbs and delays match the mood. It’s also melancholic, but bright at the same time. This is followed by “Echoing”, with more credit to Matthew Followill. The rocky, raw guitar sounds and the drums have a rough, energetic, punky vibe.
“Fairytale” is excellent as a finale, with piano bringing a musical seriousness that complements the lead vocals. Again, the atmosphere is dreamy with reverbs and electronics. In terms of tempo, it’s a slow one, perfect as an outro, making the track a beautiful ending to the album.
In this review, I’ve talked about the dreamy vibe that’s created by the use of reverb delays and different kinds of electronics that make this album such a solid work. The excellent quality of the mixing and mastering are the icing on the cake, clearly demonstrating the professionalism of all involved.
Kings of Leon has returned to us with a solid record. I miss the vibe of their early records like Only by the Night (2008), but I get it. The Followills are at a different stage in their lives, also in their careers. If I were them, I may have done likewise. Never repeat yourself. Look forward and just go with the flow.
Album Rating: 4.3/5
Images by: Julio Enriquez and Flickr