Album Review: Kings of Leon’s standard ‘Mechanical Bull’ shocks no one

Maggie Mcginity

Welcome to “Mechanical Bull,” Kings of Leon’s sixth album, where you will be satisfied without sparkle. This album is a bit bland and cardboard, Kings of Leon is falling into their well-established style without challenging themselves or their music. 

The Kings of Leon sound like themselves, but they do so too much, and they also sound too much like The Killers. There is solid instrumental rock behind Anthony Followill’s semi-distinctive, vaguely unique voice which is what Kings of Leon is known for. 

While “Mechanical Bull” is good, it is not great. These tracks are missing the shock and awe of “Sex on Fire,” lack the raw emotional appeal of “Use Somebody” the break through songs from their 2008 album “Only by the Night.” 

Where are the risks? Where are the stories? Buried in bland lyrics; in the typical, repetitive, simplistic choruses; in the long-built self-reliance and confidence of Grammy-winning artists.

I feel like these songs are 20 years old, as is their watered-down style of delivering a message. These lyrics are too vague to make a meaningful impact, yet too meaningful to be dismissed into the fodder of everyday pop culture. Looking at the lyrics written down, one can fish out a line of interest or spot a storyline, but rock ‘n’ roll was not born to be examined, it was made to be listened to.

“Mechanical Bull” is good for bar music, good for background music. A few songs might even find their way onto a soundtrack, but nothing really stands out.

There is one exception: “Comeback Story,” an overdramatic heroization of a stupid joke, mocking the common cry for empathy. Strings and uplifting chorus/melody, background choir, whistling, upbeat drums and for what?

In the future, one can only hope that Kings of Leon will take more chances, experiment more and craft albums full of passion, less of mechanical music. In “Temple,” they sing, “I just want to be noticed,” but they can not achieve that making albums like this.