Kings Of Leon: Youth & Young Manhood

NZ Listener


When God is involved, rock ‘n’ roll can get wild and crazy. From the holy howlings of Jerry Lee to the satanic rants of Slayer, religious obsession gives music that extra frisson. So I had high hopes for new Tennessee rockers Kings of Leon: three sons and the nephew of a Pentecostal preacher, who learned their first guitar chords at the foot of the pulpit. And their southern-gothic names are like something out of a Flannery O’Connor novel: Caleb Followill, his brothers Nathan and Jared and cousin Matthew.

I was initially disappointed to find that Youth and Young Manhood, the group’s debut album, doesn’t sound wilder or crazier than, say, the White Stripes on a good night. In fact, it not dissimilar to the White Stripes; common-or-garage guitar chords, clattery trebly drums, recycled blues riffs and Brian Jones-style guitar breaks.

But lead vocalist Caleb Followill’s fundamentalist raising lends a certain feral intensity to their songs. And, as much as one can decipher his mumbles and growls, he seems to have the seven deadly sins pretty well covered. There’s “Joe’s Head” in which he recounts the gory details of a crime of passion, and “Molly’s Chambers”, which brings together the volatile ingredients of sex and firearms.

Worth checking out, if you like ‘em hairy and just a little bit scary. 

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