Monday, July 20th, 2009

Kings of Leon – Notion

Getting on them while they’re hot…


Chris Boeckmann: Twinkly keyboards? Check. Banging drums? Check. Impassioned vocals? Check. Chorus? Ummm.

Chuck Eddy: Still waiting to hear a single track by these consistently half-assed, completely unrocking excuses for rock saviors that gives even any indication why people consider them an alternative to the constipated post-post-grunge hordes they basically sound (and especially sing) like. Still no Southern boogie in their groove, though for all I know people stopped claiming that about them; maybe some ’00s U2 in the background chiming, but why is that good?

Tom Ewing: It’s not so much that I don’t comprehend the appeal of the Kings of Leon, more that I don’t want to admit it. For those of us who’ve spent our lives sighing at rock, the remorseless ascent of the Kings makes us feel like socially-aware parents whose teenage son just got a subscription to Nuts. Some urges can’t be repressed. Man. Anyway, as is often the case with KoL, the band are “tight” and “lay down” a good “riff” or two and then the singer kind of smears himself all over it and it’s all rather disgusting really.

Briony Edwards: Missing the quiet melancholy that has made their material so effective in the last year or so, this song is both initially unrecognisable (the intro sounds like a slowed down Andrew WK crossed with The Hold Steady), and instantly forgetable — and this is coming from a Kings of Leon appreciator. Not their strongest effort.

Andrew Unterberger: My love for this band gets more unlikely every day. If you told me two years ago that I’d be giving a fourth single off a new Kings of Leon album an 8 rating (and fighting off the urge to go higher), I’d have shaved off all my facial hair in protest. But amazingly, here we are, and KoL are continuing to play the part of the best arena rock band in the country, with all the genre’s most rewarding, lighter-waving hallmarks–chugging drums, soaring guitar, widescreen production and brilliantly yearning vocals. They’re making the Hold Steady look like the bar band amateurs they are (maybe), and I can’t get enough of it.

Martin Skidmore: Horrible strangled old-fashioned Southern rock vocals on a musical base that I think wants to be moody, but just trudges along very slowly, head down, joyless, as if it were an old man needing to be hospitalised. And eventually it stops. How did anyone think this was a good choice for a single? Or even a B-side? My life energy levels dropped by 74% while listening to this, which makes it a positive danger to humanity.

Hillary Brown: Bob Seger’s not even dead, guys. You can take your hands out of his pockets.

Matt Cibula: Can’t imagine this sounding good on the radio at all, even though they seem to be bending over backwards to be radio-friendly pitch shifters. But I hope we can agree that the guitar tone is kind of unusual and interesting?

Martin Kavka: This isn’t as good as “Use Somebody,” and at times it threatens to sink into Hootie levels of banality. But I don’t get tired of Caleb Followill’s voice, even after it says “don’t knock it” for the 237th time. Plus there’s a really neatly processed guitar solo.

Ian Mathers: I’ve had a softer spot for these Southern-fried lunkheads than most around these parts since “The Bucket,” although at their worst they dip past tedious and ill-advised and straight into insufferable. But “Notion” is an unexpectedly accomplished example of them at their least punchable – Caleb Followill’s yowling cipher of a voice avoids talking about girls directly (always a weakness) and the post-chorus guitar/piano chime is nicely handled. It’s hard to believe this is from the same band, let alone album, as the execrable “Sex on Fire.”

Jonathan Bradley: I guess under some generous interpretation Caleb Followill’s brusquely masculine straining could be described as emotive, but “Notion” lacks even the bluntly effective melodicism of “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody.”

Anthony Miccio: This has some of the reggae swing that made “The Bucket” their best single, but the Bono-rock production makes the singer’s cornball drawl carry the weight of the world, when that shit would sound silly enough in a bar.

Colin Cooper: I like Kings of Leon, I think –- I can never remember, though I do remember that when I was 12, I liked Reef. I think I like the album –- I definitely bought it, but I can’t remember anything about it save for all of the songs sounding a bit like this one. Let’s try the video instead: imagery suggesting that the band are banging their heads against a brick wall, a wall that does, notably, show some signs of give when it’s hook time in the Followill camp. That sounds about right. Shame.

Additional Scores

Iain Mew: [5]
Michaelangelo Matos: [2]
Alfred Soto: [6]
Richard Swales: [6]

One Response to “Kings of Leon – Notion”

  1. Still no Southern boogie in their groove, though for all I know people stopped claiming that about them

    I don’t think anybody above quite does this, but people come pretty darn close. (Fwiw, I don’t think their singing sounds Southern rock either, unless “Southern rock” means somebody like Creed. And I’ve never heard them lay down any especially tight riffs, either. And I wish they sounded even a little like Bob Seger. But they don’t.)