by Kings of Leon

Here's something surprising, this is actually the seventh studio album by the Followill clan. We know, we couldn't believe it either. The problem is, the band really haven't made anything nearly as impressive since their debut in 2003 with Youth and Young Manhood.

There was a rawness about that album that they've failed to match since. And sadly, this doesn't come close either.

The first track 'Waste a Moment' is also the first single. Nice drums laced with a prominent guitar, while Caleb can be clearly heard vocalling over the top. It has an energy about it that hasn't been present in the band for some time.

boom - Kings of Leon - WALLS image

Slowing the vibe down just a tad is 'Reverend'. it doesn't do much on the surface, but has the kind of AOR chorus that you could easily find yourself singing out loud at the top of your voice whilst driving, getting the dirtiest looks from those around you. It has single release written all over it, so be prepared to hear it. A lot.

Bouncy bouncy. That's how 'Around the World' jangles its way into your ears. It's surprisingly poppy, but not current poppy (if there is such a thing anymore), but more eighties-ish. Toes will tap though. Bouncy bouncy.

Something closely resembling a bit edgy is 'Find Me'. The drums do sound like they're being produced by a drum machine, which is a bit of a shame, but it plods along in an inoffensive fashion. There's a guitar solo too that it could have done without, but there's no denying it speeds along at a cracking pace.

There's a menacing start to 'Over' that promises much. It's darker than most on here, and it pretty much stays that way throughout. Just as well then that one of the stronger tracks on the album is also one of the longest at just over six minutes.

boom reviews Kings of Leon - WALLS

Probably the best track on the album is the south of the border inspired 'Muchacho'. It doesn't have the usual trademark Kings of Leon sound, and is better off for it. A slow and pleasing tune with a chilled, laid back vibe.

It appears Radiohead are on the phone, they want their riff back from 'No Surprises', which clearly features on 'Conversation Piece'. As expected, this riff is the best thing about this track, but again, its inoffensive and doesn't quite fit into the usual soundscape of the band.

We're back on disappointingly familiar ground with 'Eyes on You'. It's upbeat, catchy and passes on by without any major incidences. Sigh.

'Wild' is a filler track. If it had been omitted from the album, it would not have been missed. Back in the old days, it would have been lucky to be a B-side.

Bringing up the rear to all of this Kings of Leon madness is the eponymous track 'WALLS'. It's a gentle, thoughtful song with heartfelt vocals delivered by Caleb. It's about being dumped, which is never nice, but it has a raw, painful beauty about it that resonates with anyone who has suffered the same. A pretty great song, all things considered.

boom reviews Kings of Leon - WALLS

There's always a faint hope that when Kings of Leon release a new album, it will come way in matching the brilliance of their debut. That hope has been dashed with every subsequent release, and this is sadly the same. Youth and Young Manhood was brimming with originality and edginess, with the listener not quite expecting what was coming next. It was bold, brave and bombastic. WALLS (an acronym, apparently, for We Are Like Love Songs) is none of these things, but it does come closer than many of the albums before it.

It does feel that the band are now happy with the road they're on, driving carefully down the middle of it. For the most part, WALLS makes for pleasant background music, and rarely grabs your attention. It's just a shame that the guys have shown so much potential in the past, and nothing since has matched up to it.

Still, this could be a step in the right musical direction though, fingers crossed.

three out of five