Kings of Leon’s Come Around Sundown, released on October 15, 2010, came after their rise-to-fame 2008 album, Only By the Night. Only By the Night earned Kings of Leon a few Grammy wins, including Best Rock Performance By A Duo Or Group With Vocals in 2008, the same category in 2009, and Record of the Year in 2010. At the height of their fame and the introduction of Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon already had five studio albums in their discography. Come Around Sundown deterred from their bombastic rock sound for more subtle beach tunes.
The year of 2010 was a very experimental time as a new decade emerged. The decade sought to not take itself so seriously, adding influences of 80s new wave synthesizers, electronic basses and even reggae. Kings of Leon took on reggae and created an album that could easily be listened to while lying on the beach and bathing in the sun, as long haired, tattooed surfers ride the incoming waves. This 13-track beach summer ballad is an ease on the ears and deserves time devoted to each listen. The album art shows a miniature island with two palm trees engulfed in the sun’s orange rays.
The first track, titled “The End,” opens with deep percussions, bass and follows with a stellar guitar riff. Caleb Followill’s voice gives the song its edge as he screams in agony and repeats, “This could be the end / this could be the end,” ending with, “No I ain’t got a home.” The lyrics are upsetting, behind a melodramatic melody.
In “Radioactive,” the tempo and beat pick up with a more positive feel. This song was their first single from the album as it was used in the opening credits to the movie, I Am Number Four. The electric guitars are on skates, as the drums dance around like a parade.
The third track, “Pyro,” could be a continuation of “Radioactive,” with a darker approach. Caleb’s voice electrifies the vocals like exploding fireworks. The drums create a perfect relationship to the vocals, for arena glamour rock.
“Mary,” brings the album to a bluesy place. The vocals are about a man crying over the loss of a girl. The addition of an awkward guitar solo separates this song from the rest of the album’s vibe.
In “The Face,” we are taken back to the beach. One of the lyrics consistently shouts, “Ride out the wave.” I guess Kings of Leon are showing their love for surfing.
The next song, “The Immortals,” is, by far, my favorite on the album. This song has incredible drum beats, thanks to Nathan Followill, and a reggae guitar riff, giving the album its continued relaxed vibe. Caleb screams over the instruments like Moses preaching over Mount Sinai.
“Back Down South” takes a rest from the last track and slows down the pace with the plucking of an acoustic guitar, a cello and a raspy voice from Caleb. This song is the perfect redneck anthem and polishes off the first half of the album.
The second half begins with “Beach Side,” which is the essential pace for chill-wave. Drums are steady, keyboards create waves and the bass flows like the water in low tide.
The track called “No Money” calls back on the blues, as a man unable to make an impression due to his low income status. “I got no money, but I want you so,” Caleb sings out, craving his woman.
“Pony Up” incorporates the best bass on the album. The bass is so great; it can be its own entity. A repetitive electric guitar that ensues like clapping follows the super bass, while Caleb brings his voice to a lower volume. This is a song that can be listened to while you’re driving with the sunset up ahead.
“Birthday,” is my next favorite song on here. The combination of lyrics, mellow guitar riff, steady bass and drums puts me in a feeling of ecstasy. It is their version of the “Happy Birthday Song.” If I was having my birthday in a tropical climate surrounded by my best friends, this song would be playing in the background. “We’re going to come together / we’re going to celebrate / we’re going to gather round / like it’s your birthday” denotes imagery of a big event.
In “Mi Amigo,” the instruments provides as back-up to the singer’s pleas and tribulations. Caleb sounds like a drunk as he sings and drinks his sorrows away.
The last track, “Pickup Truck,” does not pick up until 1:30. Caleb pours his heart out in a very emotional piece, as he lists off things he regrets. The soft guitar sounds and syncopated instrumentals denote a man facing his issues. “So you know I was thinking of you,” he repeats several times at the end. “Pickup Truck” is the perfect goodbye, a light shutting off on the edge of existence. Is it possible the album encompasses the final moments of someone’s life, making the last track his suicide note? It’s a theory.
Come Around Sundown is a solid and powerful experimental album that highlights the band’s diverse talents. This is my favorite album by Kings of Leon because chill-wave rock is my kin. These songs bring me to my favorite places on earth; the warm sand of sunny beaches and the beautiful wild waters of the ocean. This album warrants a good listen to, track-by-track.