With New Stadium Epics

The Brothers Followill are back with another slice of searching Americans, 'Because of The Times' has the anxious echo of a road trip album even from the rumbling bassline of opener 'Knocked Up' and smashing percussion, infact even the subject matter is barely a step away from Springsteen. The vocals speak with an empty hollowness that inspires this sensation of restlessness while the dynamics vary from an impassioned chorus to a glassy calm of bass and intermittent soft vocals; it's a truly inspiring opening track that sets the tone.

'Charmer's strolling bass and chiming guitars are punctuated by hoarse squeals that give it that extra ounce of character that makes Kings of Leon's sound so unique, although there is more than a little hint to the Pixies' chaotic rock stylings. Then there's single 'On Call', which was a surprise delight, bringing a glossier and more melodic sound from whence there had once been redneck charm. 'On Call' shows us a band minus the disturbing beards and with a sleek, sexy sound that uses its simplicity to the best effect. 'True Love Way' is another number that expertly crafts a sense of longing from the spaces between the aching vocals and tremendous percussion, a strong tour de force of Americana with lone guitar crying like eagles in the night, this is a definite highlight.

Kings of Leon haven't left behind all their brash rock roots though, 'Black Thumbnail' is a mad moment of turn-it-up jamming, while 'My Party' struts some funky stuff with its insistent rhythm and repetitive vocals that ooze cool. 'McFearless' has an almost ska rhythm, slightly reminiscent of Red Hot Chili Peppers with a dark mix of muddy percussive sound backing the syncopated vocal cries.

There's fizzy, but measured pop in bright sounds of 'Fans' which features a jubilant guitar passage and blustering vocal outbursts which turn to our own shores, the best translation attempt I can make from the traditional careening Followill cries being, "All of London scene/Whose England's queen who makes sweet love to tales I bring". Well, who said that music ever had to make sense? Nearing the end of the album, 'Trunk' and 'Arizona' bring about a woozy sense of closure with slow-building soundscapes allowing the guitars to take precedent over the bolshy bass which dominates most of the upbeat tunes.

Mixing Springsteen's American soul and the stadium-ready smooth production of U2, Kings of Leon appear to be moving into new and fascinating territory with a mature and compelling third album. As Dylan said, "The times are a-changing" and in Kings of Leon's case, this is no bad thing.