Jul 5 2011

The Top 50 Albums of the 2000s – Because of the Times

Today I continue a series of posts dedicated to the best albums of the last decade, posting analysis of one album at a time.

38. Kings of Leon – Because of the Times

Nobody likes Kings of Leon anymore, and there’s a reason for that – Only By the Night, their breakthrough album, was disappointing as a whole, and Come Around Sundown was almost complete garbage. The group has all but reinvented themselves as a schlock, stadium-filling, Southern rock answer to U2. I suppose you could blame Because of the Times for all of that – they never really looked back after melodramatic, grandiose productions like “Knocked Up” and “On Call.” But the group’s third album, an obvious musical departure from the rowdy Youth and Young Manhood and the incredible Aha Shake Heartbreak, for temporarily better (and ultimately worse) showed a band growing into strong songwriters.

The refried Southern tinge is still present, though more subdued; this is a band undergoing a sharp transformation.  The aforementioned “Knocked Up,” arguably the album’s most memorable tune, is a 7-minute tale of the aftermath of an accidental pregnancy.  We still get the “Strokes in overalls” vibe, yes, but the melodies have shifted from dirgy rock pieces to more pop-influenced movements, reminiscent of some of the bands Kings opened for while writing this album – bands like Pearl Jam and, yes, U2.  There is more melodic romanticism – the captivating “True Love Way” and the simply sweet “Ragoo.”  And yet, the dirty rock is still here, just before it all but disappeared, and it is stronger than ever.  The screech of “Charmer” alongside rockers like “McFearless” and “Black Thumbnail” do not disappoint.

Many mark this album as the beginning of the end for Kings of Leon as a relevant band, and I am not one to argue.  But even if their output from here on out was less than satisfactory, to downright Weezer-esque atrocious, this was one hell of a last hurrah.

Kings of Leon – Knocked Up

Kings of Leon – Charmer

Kings of Leon – True Love Way