Kings Of Leon – Can We Please Have Fun

A rousing reaffirmation of their core rock values…

After more than 20 years together and eight studio albums, Kings Of Leon could be forgiven for feeling a little jaded. 2021 album ‘When You See Yourself’ wasn’t bad, per se, but it found their lights dimming a little. For Album No. 9 the band tap back into their core values – from its title down, ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ is a riot, the most unabashed expression of their Southern charms that fans have seen for quite some time.

In a way, we shouldn’t seen it coming. Returning to Dark Horse studios in Tennessee, the band recruited pop specialist Kid Harpoon as producer. Fresh from work with Harry Styles and Maggie Rogers, his contribution seems to be applying some focus, and allowing Kings Of Leon to cut loose once in a while.

Lead single ‘Mustang’ was anthemic, and unforced; Kings Of Leon seemed to drop the poise a little, and re-connect with what makes them such a thrilling rock band. ‘Split Screen’ opens it out a little, the kind of cinematic fare the group have long since made their own.

Dynamic and direct, ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ works best when it’s all thrills, and no subtext. ‘Ballerina Radio’ is a surging opener, while the sloping bassline behind ‘Rainbow Ball’ provides a moment of gleeful fun. ‘Nowhere To Run’ may half-inch a Motown title, but in reality the choppy guitars are pure post-punk, while the rabble-rousing chorus feels designed for those epic live shows.

It’s not all pulsating rock, though. ‘Don’t Stop The Bleeding’ offers up true tenderness, countrified in the most subtle of ways. ‘Ease On Me’ meanwhile glides along, a Southern torch song for the ages.

A record that puts the needle firmly into the red, the brashness of ‘Can We Please Have Fun’ is something to behold. Not everything here lands, and at times the raucous performances can work against the songwriting, but when it connects, this album is ready to lay a haymaker on fans.

7/10

Words: Robin Murray

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