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splendid > reviews > 11/6/2003
Kings of Leon
Kings of Leon
Youth and Young Manhood
RCA


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Red Morning Light"

Buy me now
Hot-to-trot quartet Kings of Leon are, to put it mildly, an A&R VP's wet dream -- a suitably shaggy southern-fried Strokes with just enough twang to endear them to Skynyrd aficionados without losing punters from their key garage-rock demographic. While the UK has already adopted them as this week's saviors of rock 'n' roll, Stateside opinion remains divided as to whether they're worth their weight in manure or gold. The boozified churn of "Red Morning Light" is bolstered by a plague-strength riff and Ethan Johns's uncharacteristically tinny production, and the scraggly guitars and pared-down backbeat of "Joe's Head" sounds so much like Casablancas and Co. that you'll swear they've traded their Chuck Taylors and barefaced Television worship for scuffed work boots and evenings spent in the company of .38 Special. Sure, Kings of Leon have uncorked a handful of fine singles -- "California Waiting" and the aforementioned "Red Morning Light" being the best of the bunch -- but as a whole, Youth and Young Manhood isn't as engaging as, say, White Blood Cells or Got What We Wanted. The band plows ahead on the musical high road, with no stylistic diversions and no jagged forks in the road. Simply put, there's no danger in Kings of Leon's game; they've made a safe, if frayed, rock album that bristles and pops with flashes of brilliance, yet never ignites into the full-blown firestorm they're quite obviously capable of creating.


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