Monday, 18 October 2010

Album Review: Come Around Sundown - Kings Of Leon

Success can easily go to a person’s head and do strange things to them, just look at what happened to dear old Susan Boyle. And now it seems that it may have claimed another victim.

Kings Of Leon managed to escape the pitfalls of popularity with fourth album ‘Only By the Night’, a collection of huge anthems that perfectly suited arenas and festival headline slots. But going back into the studio after playing to thousands of adoring fans night after night appears to have got them all confused.

On ‘Come Around Sundown’, the three brothers from Tennessee have tried to return to their southern routes that worked so well on their first two releases whilst still trying to create arena-worthy anthems as on the last two. And unfortunately they have lived up to the old stereotype about men and multitasking.

Frustratingly, they have teased us a little with ‘Back Down South’, which just about nails it as far as merging new and old is concerned. But the rest of the album is a bit of a disappointment.

There is some redemption in the first single taken from the record, ‘Radioactive’, which has an original gospel feel and ‘Birthday’ manages to retain some of the KOL magic of old. However tracks such as ‘The Face’ and ‘Beach Side’, much like a chav on the dole, just plod along without amounting to much. In fact ‘No Money’ seems to end just as it starts to get good.

Whereas Caleb’s voice has sounded uniquely captivating on previous records, it now sounds a little whiney and dull. And it’s hard to get enthusiastic about a song when even the singer sounds bored.

Maybe it’s a grower, but at the moment I’m starting to think that those pigeons at the Verizon Amphitheatre had a point.

Top 5 Kings Of Leon Tracks:

1. Taper Jean Girl (Aha Shake Heartbreak)

2. Happy Alone (Youth & Young Manhood)

3. Molly’s Chambers (Youth & Young Manhood)

4. Fans (Because Of The Times)

5. Use Somebody (Only By the Night)

Friday, 15 October 2010

The return of My Chemical Romance

Three years ago, My Chemical Romance waved goodbye and took a much needed break from the limelight. For some, this was a matter to rejoice but for many it has been a long three years waiting for their return. But the MCRmy can now celebrate, because the boys from New Jersey are back, without a drummer but with a brand new image and a brand new album.

‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ has been a long time in the making. Back in 2009, the band announced that they had completed the follow up to their third studio album ‘The Black Parade’, only to then scrap it and start all over again. So it goes without saying that fans expect a lot from the new record.

This week the band released the video for the interestingly titled ‘Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)’, the first single taken from Danger Days, and it’s clear to see that the band have made some drastic image changes. Whereas The Black Parade was all about death and well…black, the theme for Danger Days appears to be all about pop art and glorious technicolor. Lead man Gerard Way has changed his hair colour yet again - his bleached white locks are now a vibrant red - and the video features a curious new character that loosely resembles Sonic The Hedgehog (and is later revealed to in fact be Gerard himself).

The band are keen to make it clear that - unlike The Black Parade – the new record is not a concept album. However, the Na Na Na video appears to follow ‘The Fabulous Killjoys’ as they battle their arch nemesis with a little help from ‘the kid with the afro from Diversity’. The story ends with a cliffhanger in which said kid is captured and Gerard and the boys are told to ‘keep running’. A ‘to be continued…’ moment if I ever I saw one.

With the past two albums centering around very dark subjects and after the controversy in 2008 which saw the band’s ‘emo’ style and lyrics blamed for the suicide of a fan, many are questioning whether MCR are attempting to shake off the ‘emo’ label. It’s clear the band are still keen to rebel - what with the video featuring a child purchasing a gun from a vending machine and all – but perhaps with the line-up change and a few kids to raise My Chemical Romance now have a brighter outlook on life. I wouldn’t go expecting a gospel album just yet though…

The single ‘Na Na Na’ is out now. ‘Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys’ is released on November 22.

Top 5 MCR Tracks:

1. Teenagers (The Black Parade)

2. Famous Last Words (The Black Parade)

3. You Know What They Do To Guys Like Us In Prison (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

4. I’m Not Okay (I Promise) (Three Cheers For Sweet Revenge)

5. Headfirst For Halos (I Brought You My Bullets, You Brought Me Your Love)