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Youth and Young Manhood by Kings of Leon

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Reviewed on 1st July 2003.


Youth and Young Manhood

By Kings of Leon

Three sons of a preacher (and their cousin) from America's deep south, all with snake hips, long hair, thick fringes, flares and most importantly (gasp) beards! The Southern Strokes, allegedly.

OK, that's all the hype out of the way, so what's this debut album really like? There is a very promising start in single, 'Red Morning Light' which stomps along with a confident, cocksure, 70's swagger, and very catchy chorus. 'Happy Alone' is also good, Caleb Followill sings about wearing 'high heels and your dirty red lipstick'. His voice oozes charismatically with a thick, drawling southern accent, but has a power behind it too, ensuring he will be loved by boys and girls alike.

At times Kings of Leon sound really old, there's something of the Led Zeppelin III about 'Joe's Head' and AC/DC, the Stones and Bob Dylan are all obvious influences. At the same time, simple, bouncy rock riffs are reminiscent of The Strokes but with a Datsun-level of capability on their instruments. Songs like 'Molly's Chambers' and 'Red Morning Light' sound like you've known them for years, they just work.

To be honest, this album is good, but it's really nothing ground breaking. The other songs struggle to stand up to 'Red Morning Light', although there are some close contenders in 'Holy Roller Novocaine' and 'Happy Alone'. The Kings of Leon stand out because they look so weird. They could, at a push, be some middle class art students from Goldsmiths who are trying their damndest to be ironic, but the great thing is, they're the real McCoy, it's all very postmodern. This album seems to lack a strong presence of the King's individual personalities, which I'm sure comes out in their live performances. The songs are good, but there's a real opportunity for humour and fun which is neglected, they seem to take themselves a bit too seriously.

That said, this album is very good, the Followill's may look quaint, but their sound is pure rock and roll. Should we believe the hype? Will beards make a come back? Who knows?



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