Album review

Kings Of Leon :
Youth & Young Manhood


Kings Of Leon : Youth & Young ManhoodIt's all too easy to get jaded with the hamster wheel of hype that the British music press seems be running on. While The White Stripes, the Yeah Yeah Yeahs et al have produced very good albums, they haven't been CDs that I've ever felt the need to return to after the first couple of weeks.
    On the surface, Kings Of Leon may be the latest in a long line, but in Youth & Young Manhood this Southern-fried foursome have produced something truly wonderful. Yes, ladies and gentlemen; believe the hype. Their credentials are an anachronism, but are nonetheless impeccable: The three Followill brothers (Caleb, Nathan and Jared - vocals, drums and bass respectively) grew up on the road, trailing their evangelist father between Oklahoma City and Memphis. Pentecostal church music was the soundtrack to their upbringing - a soundtrack that the boys regularly participated in. Fast forward a few years, add cousin Matthew Followill on guitar, make a home in Nashville and Kings Of Leon are the result.

Youth & Young Manhood, benefits greatly from already being chock-full of familiar tunes; all the best bits of the debut Holy Roller Novocaine EP are here - including new single Molly's Chambers - as is Red Morning Light, which opens this fabulous disc. What is heartening is that the new tracks are just as good as the already released material. Caleb Followill's expressive yet lackadaisical vocal skills are totally engaging, and help wedge the likes of Joe's Head and Genius deep into your consciousness where the more familiar tracks already reside.
    Kings Of Leon may share the effortless cool of The White Stripes, but their unique brand of bluesy rock 'n' roll is far less studied. In places it may evoke Tom Petty & The Heartbreakers - particularly on the hidden Talahina Sky - and The Rolling Stones, but Ethan Johns' sympathetic yet modern production places Youth & Young Manhood firmly post-The Strokes' Is This It.
    These three sons (and a nephew) of a preacher man have produced a CD of such quality that you'll be buying it at some point this year, even if you need to see it in the upper reaches of everyone's end of year polls before you part with your money. That's where you'll find it, cause it's that damn good. Take my advice and don't leave it that long.

:: Rowan Shaeffer

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