First Take: Kings Of Leon – ‘Mustang’

A fun traipse through their roots...

Kings Of Leon raced out of the traps on their debut album, and just kept accelerating. Initially, their peers include The Strokes, The Vines, and a few other groups with the definitive article linked to their names. By the time of 2008’s ‘Only By The Night’ however, they’d graduated to stadiums – vast outdoor arenas, more used to sports showdowns than rock concerts.

The past decade, however, has offered slim pickings for fans. Since 2013 album ‘Mechanical Bull’ the Followill clan have only managed to cough up two albums, with neither garnering the critical excitement of old.

Incoming album ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ sounds like a challenge to themselves. Going back to their core values, they’ve grabbed a brand new producer – UK artist and now pop-name-to-drop Kid Harpoon – to inject some directness.

Out on May 10th, the new LP comes 21 years after ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ – but will their middle years prove to be fun, or simply a holding pattern for former glories?

New single ‘Mustang’ is the first sign of their new record, and it dips into their bedrock. A country-infused indie rocker that feels like a long John Fogerty song in places, its credo is Creedence, aiming for simplicity and melody.

Defusing the bluster of their stadium years, its simply fun – a blast of fan-service, perhaps, but then what’s wrong with that? From the choppy intro guitar line down, it feels built for use in sweaty venues, a reminder of the spit ‘n’ sawdust bars they once called their own.

Matched pop pep to a certain dose of rock sleaze, ‘Mustang’ is the most overtly excited Kings Of Leon have sounded in some time. Dropping the pose to reclaim the swagger, it’s a sign that the upcoming record might just surprise a few people.

Our verdict? 7/10

Check out ‘Mustang’ below.

Kings Of Leon will headline BST Hyde Park on June 30th. New album ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ will be released on May 10th – order it now.

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