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Kings of Leon: When You See Yourself review – not much to look at

Phil Mongredien
·1-min read

The career arc of Tennessee four-piece Kings of Leon has not been a pretty one. Having appeared as genuinely exciting reinventors of southern rock for the Strokes generation on their first two albums, they swiftly traded it in for lumpen, witless, lowest-common-denominator arena rock, becoming standard bearers for lighter-waving celebrations of inarticulate oafishness. After a partly successful reboot with 2016’s Walls, they attempt to build on that for their eighth album by using the same producer, Markus Dravs, but there’s only so much he can do when the raw material he’s working with so often falls short.

A case in point is Claire and Eddie, which seems to find KoL nodding to big issues: “Fire’s gonna rage if people don’t change”, which makes a nice change to it being sex that’s on fire. Sadly, their climate crisis message gets lost amid the wearyingly featureless mellow country rock. 100,000 People, meanwhile, has a laughably inane chorus in which Caleb Followill appears to be repeating “U2, U2, U2” over and over (on closer inspection, it’s probably “you do”, but clear enunciation has never been a strong point). When You See Yourself is not entirely without merit: The Bandit does a passable impression of Interpol’s sense of drama; Echoing is suitably swashbuckling; the tautness of Golden Restless Age turns back the clock. But, overall, this is the sound of a band fresh out of ideas.