Clash Essential 50 - Number 3

Kings Of Leon, 'Because Of The Times'
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The Clash Essential 50 counts down the greatest albums of the last five years, i.e. the lifetime of Clash.

Over the past three weeks, ClashMusic.com has featured articles focusing on every one of our selected albums, revisiting these classics for timely reappraisals.

Now we’re into the top five, with our number one album revealed on Friday, April 24. Be there, or be dead to us. Got an excuse? CLICK HERE.

Onwards…

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3
Kings Of Leon, ‘Because Of The Times’
(2007; RCA)

Surveying the crowds of the summer festivals that Kings Of Leon will be playing in the coming months, it’s hard to imagine now that once upon a time the Followill boys were hovering for some time on the periphery of mainstream success, only on the radar of elitist indie kids and supermodels.

They are bona-fide Superstars in 2009, the direct result of their fourth album, ‘Only By The Night’, which heralded their true arrival as a Number One single and album band. However, that all-conquering long-player did not just appear out of the tequila-doused ether or the dusty back roads of Nashville. Their vision has been long-held, and achieved through an ambition and perseverance that evolved across their first three albums, finally penetrating a higher plane of sonic aspirations on ‘Because Of The Times’ – their final step forwards before kicking down the doors to the world.

For those who’d adored the sawdust roughness of their perfectly titled debut, ‘Youth And Young Manhood’, its follow-up, ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’, tested their loyalty by noticeably expanding its musicality, its depth and its worldly scope. For those that were still in thrall, ‘Because Of The Times’ came sweeping away any doubts that Kings Of Leon would be cult darlings forever, and signaled another change in sound – this time in the walls of sound that served as a backdrop to each song – that marked them as one of the Noughties’ most interesting indie bands.

From the off, when one is expecting a chunky riff to open proceedings, ‘Knocked Up’’s shuffling and brooding intro makes you sit up and take notice. The icy guitar picks a chiming riff before the rhythm joins in with a rolling line that beckons Caleb Followill’s familiar voice to join us: “People call us renegades ‘cause we like living crazy,” he sings, before a snap of a snare drum throws the chorus at us like a swift jab to the chops. As first songs go, it’s a perfect example of the textures and terrain set to follow...

The one-two-three sucker punch of ‘McFearless’, ‘Black Thumbnail’ and ‘My Party’ arrives at the mid-point of the album where usually one falters, beating your eardrums into submission and sending your heart into a fluttering daze. By the time the eloquent remorse of ‘Arizona’ flies gracefully into space, there’s no mistaking that the last hour was spent in the company of a band that revels in poignancy, and holds dear everything that’s sacred about the art of song craftsmanship.

While the worst offenders in the realm of indie refuse to evolve and continue to stagnate, Kings Of Leon only improve with age, and now, with the phenomenal success of their latest album and the support of a dedicated nation behind them, one can only guess where their adventures in sound will take them – and us – next.

For its warm nature, its hopes, desires and sheer determination, ‘Because Of The Times’ is a worthy winner of this chart’s shiny bronze medal.

Words: Simon Harper

Kings Of Leon – ‘On Call’ (live, Later…)



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Clash spoke to massive Kings of Leon fan Zane Lowe about the importance of ‘Because Of The Times’ in the band’s catalogue; click HERE for the full interview, and here’s a wee snippet…

Did you think ‘Because Of The Times’ sounded different on first listen?

Yeah, I just thought ‘progression’. I thought, ‘Great, they’ve evolved, they’re confident’. As soon as it started, I was like, ‘Okay, this is a nice mellow start’, then I looked to see how long the song was - seven minutes! Excellent! It’s a bold move for a band to start a new album when they have been pigeonholed to a certain extent in a certain style of music and creating these two- to three-minute garage-rock-pop numbers, then to come out with an album which starts with a seven-minute tune that doesn’t really kind of... you know, it escalates a couple of points into the song but it very quickly goes back to where it started. I just thought it was brilliant and I think it sounded so fresh at the time to have an outro that lasted three minutes; just hollering that coda in the background over and over. It just showed total confidence and it had me locked in from the start, because as soon as I heard that I was like, ‘Okay, well if that’s how they are starting their record then they are clearly on to a winner’.

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The Clash Essential 50 so far…

50: The Killers, ‘Hot Fuss’
49: Kasabian, ‘Kasabian’
48: Deerhunter, ‘Microcastle’
47: Bat For Lashes, ‘Fur and Gold’
46: Vampire Weekend, ‘Vampire Weekend’
45: MGMT, ‘Oracular Spectacular’
44: Portishead, ‘Third’
43: Elbow, ‘The Seldom Seen Kid’
42: Amy Winehouse, ‘Back To Black’
41: Santigold, ‘Santigold’
40: Late Of The Pier, ‘Fantasy Black Channel’
39: Sigur Rós, ‘Takk…’
38: Efterklang, ‘Parades’
37: Liars, ‘Drum’s Not Dead’
36: The White Stripes, ‘Get Behind Me Satan’
35: Hot Chip, ‘The Warning’
34: Fleet Foxes, ‘Fleet Foxes’
33: Benga, ‘Diary Of An Afro Warrior’
32: Feist, ‘The Reminder’
31: Broadcast, ‘Tender Buttons’
30: Battles, ‘Mirrored’
29: Klaxons, ‘Myths Of The Near Future’
28: Tunng, ‘Mother’s Daughter And Other Songs’
27: The Libertines, ‘The Libertines’
26: Kanye West, ‘The College Dropout’
25: Apparat, ‘Walls’
24: Burial, ‘Burial’
23: Gallows, ‘Orchestra Of Wolves’
22: Caribou, ‘The Milk Of Human Kindness’
21: Broken Social Scene, ‘Broken Social Scene’
20: Sufjan Stevens, ‘Illinois’
19: Soulwax, ‘Nite Versions’
18: The Bug, ‘London Zoo’
17: Brian Wilson, ‘SMiLE’
16: Isolée, ‘We Are Monster’
15: My Morning Jacket, ‘Z’
14: Franz Ferdinand, ‘Franz Ferdinand’
13: Joanna Newsom, ‘Ys’
12: Modeselektor, ‘Hello Mom!’
11: Bloc Party, ‘Silent Alarm’
10: Animal Collective, 'Merriweather Post Pavilion'
9: J Dilla, ‘Donuts’
8: Arctic Monkeys, ‘Whatever People Say I Am, That’s What I’m Not’
7: M.I.A., ‘Arular’
6: LCD Soundsystem, ‘LCD Soundsystem’
5: The Knife, ‘Silent Shout’
4: TV On The Radio, ‘Return To Cookie Mountain’
3: Kings Of Leon, ‘Because Of The Times’

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