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Kings of Leon: ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ review

The Nashville often thrill us on album number 9, but they haven’t fully committed to the “fun” premise.

Kings Of Leon’s preacher family backstory and “Southern-fried” take on The Strokes’ garage rock sound made them an intriguing phenomenon in the ‘00s. Their raw and energetic first couple of records were lapped up within the UK, while a heavy polish on the next two saw their success grow globally (catapulted by the success of 2008 single ‘Sex on Fire’).

Several patchy records later, they’ve returned with album number nine, promising to bring “fun” back. Produced in Nashville’s Dark Horse studio with producer Kid Harpoon (whose credits include Harry Styles and Florence + the Machine), Can We Please Have Fun contains smooth and explosive earworms, though is disappointingly let down by too many subdued fillers.

To start, ‘Ballerina Radio’ runs a reflective post-apocalyptic theme and is aided by warm synths, while the explosive ‘Mustang’ refreshingly has Caleb Followill unleash his forgotten howl amid electrifying guitars and absurdist lyricism.

Similarly, ‘Nowhere To Run’ and ‘Nothing To Do’ hint to a raucousness found missing of late. However, the Nashville band reign themselves in on tracks like ‘Ease On Me’, ‘’Actual Daydream’ and ‘Don’t Stop the Bleeding’; moments that revel in Kings Of Leon’s recent banal basepoint.

Technically the music is accomplished; the driving basslines of Jared Followill, in particular, shining through. Caleb’s voice is rich and flawless. It’s just that Can We Please Have Fun suffers a similar fate as Kings Of Leon’s other post-Only By The Night albums: they struggle to maintain a cohesive excitement from start to finish.

Are we still having fun?” asks Caleb on funky earworm ‘Nowhere To Run’, a question better asked upon the record’s completion. The answer is yes, but we could have had a lot more. Of course, Kings Of Leon often thrill us here, albeit without fully committing to the original premise. And that is the album’s main frustration.



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