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Music review: Kings of Leon 'Mechanical Bull'

Kings of Leon issues more magic from its mystical rural garage.
BY GENE TRIPLETT Published: October 4, 2013


Kings of Leon ‘Mechanical Bull'

Imagine if you will a modern-day cover band making the rounds of Southern bars and clubs, and one day it pulls its fancy van and equipment trailer up in front of an old gas station in the remotest regions of the Deep South. You know, one of those places with a rusted-out old pickup truck parked off to the side on cinder blocks, a passel of dirty little barefoot kids playing in the dust of the unpaved drive at the base of tall, old-fashioned fuel pumps that are now obsolete. Machines along the front dispense sodas called Grapette and Nehi, and an ancient man whittles in a chair next to a screen door.

Back in the shadows of the garage, the silhouettes of four young men can be seen wailing away on instruments, but the sounds that issue from the darkness are not banjo ballads about foggy-mountain breakdowns or flies in the buttermilk, but cosmic songs of unsentimental girls and manly endurance, road-dog survivalism and soul-searching savvy, all told in the raw elegance of songs called “Supersoaker” and “Family Tree” and “On the Chin,” and Caleb Followill's heartfelt howl over the spacious guitar backing and restrained percussive drive that draws on equal parts of the Followill clan's woodsmoke-flavored upbringing and the spiritual explorations of city-kin bands such as U2.

This passing city band might be inspired to inquire within about rental of this magical backwoods garage space, in the hope that some of this rural wizard's dust might rub off on them. Or they might simply give up and high-tail it back where they came from and buy a copy of Kings of Leon's latest minor miracle of an album, the modestly titled “Mechanical Bull.” But they still wouldn't sound the same.

— Gene Triplett


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