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Kings of Leon - 'Pyro'

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Fraser McAlpine | 08:50 UK time, Friday, 3 December 2010

Kings of Leon

Strange things are afoot in the Followill clan. 'Come Around Sundown', their fifth album and the one which promised to rein in their stadium rock tendencies in favour of something more low-key and primal, has not quite managed to fulfil that pledge. People who liked the chicken-scratch, wolf-howl of the first couple of albums are still struggling to match up the new, mature Kings with their backyard, youthful selves, but it's not as if they have suddenly lost all their fans overnight.

In fact, despite the critical headscratching, the band appear to be in rude health. There was a bit of a to-do around the video to this song, when it emerged that someone on the production team had put out an insensitively-worded advert for extras. It asked, among other things, for people who looked "a little slow" and hyper-excitedly concluded that "scars, pockmarked skin, physical abnormalities or deformities are welcomed!!!!"

It's not the band's fault, but it didn't help an already confused fanbase, who felt the kiddypicnic in the 'Radioactive' video was a step into Bono territory from a band who had always been a bit too sexy and a bit too cool to go there.

The video itself doesn't seem to be finished yet. It might be a work of art.

As for the song, well now, it's a pickle. It's easy to see why early-adopters of the KOL thing feel a little let down by this move into a musical neighbourhood which is only a couple of houses down from Keane or Train. It's the loss of that badge of cultural honour, where you could wear your Followill followhood as proof that you have uniquely great taste in cutting edge sounds. It's that unsettling realisation that the wrong sort of people are into the Kings of Leon nowadays. Y'know, the plebs who only want to hear the hits.

As I said, I understand it. It's daft and snooty, but I get it. In the meantime, 'Pyro' throbs away in the background, with Nathan and Caleb Followill breaking their hearts on that conjoined and lovely "Iiiiey" in the chorus.

Yes it's U2-ey, yes it's a little listless, yes it's all brawny and beefy, a grown man sobbing into his beer rather than some scrappy kids punching each other in a back alley; but for all that, it's not the worst thing you could hear at 2am when something dreadful has happened in your social life.

Something involving regret, probably.

Three stars Download: Out now

BBC Music page

(Fraser McAlpine)

When The Gramophone Rings says: "A gorgeous, harmony-dripping campfire croon beefed up to fill the smallest nooks and crannies of the biggest arenas"

Morethanafeeling says: "Caleb's voice is heard in several soaring harmonies amidst the rolling bass and pleasant guitar line.

Ride The Tempo says: "A song of a dude in some total depression, but all the visual details in his lyrics are what makes it effective."




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