1. Youth & Young Manhood
On listening to their First full length album Youth and Young Manhood (2003) some might find the boogie-woogie elements of some of the songs jarring but this only adds to the diversity of the album. As a point the album is one that combines electric guitar riffs at an uncommon pacing at some point making it fresh to the ears weary of Nickel Back power ballads. That is exactly what makes this album rough but good, the music is a reflection of the past in many ways and lyrics are a commentary on the now as seen through the eyes of southern boys with a strong sense of funny and guilt. The best songs on the album are Happy Alone, Trani, Molly Chambers, Dusty and the hidden track Talihina Skies. These songs are, in a nut shell, the musical style of Kings of Leon in its most raw and diverse state. This sense innovation is something that maybe lacking in their later albums.
2. Aha Shake Heartbreak
An album that followed only a year after their first record release Aha Shake Heartbreak. A more commercialized album to be sure, the quality of the musical styling is a marked improvement from their first album. And in the King of the Rodeo we can hear the beginnings of the now oh so popular claps and vocal backups of the entire band. Something that has been becoming more and more popular among alt rock and indie rocks bands, even in Coldplay’s last album Viva la Vida or Death and All His Friends the technique is used. That is not to say that the clap clap sing sing, we all sing together song style owes its creation to the Kings of Leon, perhaps they just did so well that many other bands followed suit. For a sophomore album Aha Shake Heartbreak is very focused and you really have a sense that it has a style of its own. The best songs on the album are King of the Rodeo, Soft, Day Old Blues, and Where Nobody Knows. Out of the bands catalogue Aha Shake Heartbreak has a real sense of fun, you can feel it whenever you play the songs, they are among the best the Kings of Leon have to offer.
3. Because of the Times
After a few years without a new album the Kings Of Leon released Because of the Times (2007). A much darker album than the positive energy power house which was Aha Shake Heartbreak, Because of the Times begins with Knocked Up, a seven minute ten second long pseudo love ballad. A song which sets the tone for the entire album, as a kind of Dear John Letter to a world encumbered by panic, pain and lust. The content that permeates the lyrics of Because of the Times is a mixed bad, filled with dark imagery with choruses that insight a real sense of struggle. Against what, I guess that is where the black space is left for the listeners to fill in for themselves? The best of this album can be heard in Knocked Up, My Party, Fans, Camaro and my favorite of the album Arizona. Out of all of the band’s albums this one is by far the darkest, and in some ways the most satisfying.
4. Only by the Night
Considered the Kings of Leon’s breakout album Only By The Night was released in the summer of 2008. When first hearing this album, having heard the band’s earlier work you may find yourself doing a little bit of a comparison. In terms of originality is seems that the band has hit a bit of a plateau. Having found their sound, with this album the band has made its first truly commercial product. With the least amount of their original boogie-woogie timed styling, the band has focused more on the collective element of their music. With many vocal assists given to the lead singer courtesy of the rest of the band, the Kings of Leon have now perfected the clap clap sing sing we all sing together style of music which has become almost old hat by now with bands like Arcade Fire, New Pornographers, and others gaining so much popularity and air time on the radio. That is not to say this is a bad album by any means, if anything it is their most refined album to date. Though it does not leave you with the same sense of satisfaction that Because of the Times did or the feeling of playful energy that Aha Shake Heartbreak had in spades. No, this album falls somewhere in the middle of all the albums that have come before it. Not as original as Youth and Young Manhood or as fun as Aha Shake Heartbreak, nor does it leave you with the sense of satisfaction that one gets from Because of the Times. Out of the Kings of Leon catalogue, Only By night is its own beast, made for the masses and delivered in style.