There are few bands who polarise their supporters as much as Kings of Leon. Creating a kind of strange, inter-fan turf war, either you’re Team Early Years or Team Later Years and rarely the twain shall meet.
If you’re in the former camp, the Followill clan are like a four-headed Samson, who lost their powers as soon as they lopped off those long, lustrous locks. Having burst onto the scene in the early Noughties exuding pure pheromones from their elfin frames, the band delivered two albums of superlative, hedonistic, Southern bar-rock (2003’s ‘Youth & Young Manhood’ and 2004’s ‘Aha Shake Heartbreak’) and one that beefed up the formula (2007’s ‘Because of the Times’) before everything went sour and 2008’s ‘Only By The Night’ became an unwritten by-word for selling out.
If you’re in the latter camp, however (i.e. the public majority), then ‘selling-out’ is just an indie snob’s term for ‘becoming commercially popular’. You can’t argue with the numbers, and since 2008 the band’s fanbase has swelled in tandem with their ticket sales, record sales and the amount of times you’ve had to listen to ‘Sex On Fire’. Ah, we hate it when our friends become successful…
So now we come to 2016 and the teasing statement that the band are already in pre-production for album seven. Even more intriguingly, singer Caleb Followill has stated that the band look likely to record the album in LA: where their first two LPs were laid down. “We might just try to get a little change of scenery. Our first two albums we recorded in L.A., so we’re going to try to go back and see if it inspires us,” he told Associated Press.
It’s a move that suggests that even the Kings themselves are feeling the itch to go back to their fizzing, feral roots and you can understand why. When the album update was published yesterday, the reaction was incredibly mixed; half excitement, half utter condemnation, they’re probably the only band in the world of their stature to constantly have to justify themselves to their own fans. “Just grow the hair long again, go back to their roots and make an album thats more like the first three albums opposed to the last three which were basically kings of leon bending over with trousers down for commercial radio,” said NME reader Geoff Downes on Facebook. “So basically everyone here’s saying they stopped liking Kings of Leon 3 albums ago. Move on then. I’ve enjoyed all of there albums, can’t wait for a new one. But hey, I’m just a fan. So there’s that,” contradicted fan Sjors Reijs. And so it continues.
Over six albums and 13 years, Caleb, Nathan, Jared and Matthew have become a band of two halves co-existing under one name. If their LA return hints at anything, it’s that maybe their next album could be the one to unite the two. Let us know your hopes for the record in the comments.