Kings of Leon – ‘Walls’

A record that chronicles the band’s return to excellence

More stories from Parker Reed


Many records are fun to listen to a few times, but few immerse you into a sea of sonic bliss.

Kings of Leon, an alternative rock band hailing from Nashville, Tennessee, does just that.

Formed in 1999, the band comprises four family members (three brothers and one cousin) and is known best for their hit singles “Use Somebody” and “Sex on Fire.”

The band’s most commercially successful album came in 2008 when they released the groundbreaking “Only by the Night” which went on to spawn the two previously stated singles as well as catapult the band from alt/country fandom into the mainstream. However, the band’s next two efforts wouldn’t be viewed in the same light.

2010’s “Come Around Sundown” and 2013’s “Mechanical Bull” were both solid efforts by the band that explored more ambient sounds as well as a modern country approach. However, both of these records sold far fewer copies than their predecessor, and it seemed as though the band was on the decline. However, their 2016 effort is anything but regressive.

Kings of Leon’s seventh studio album “WALLS” was released Oct. 14, 2016 and charted at number one on the Billboard 200 albums chart after its first week of release, selling almost 70,000 units. The album received commercial and critical success for a very good reason.

Opening up the record is the rock radio hit “Waste a Moment.” This track has been described by many critics as the “Kings of Leon we know and love,” and while I think this is true, it is hardly the most impressive effort from the record.

Following up the solid lead single on the track list is “Reverend.” A song that describes the almost religious experience of hearing a song you connect with for the first time, “Reverend” bolsters a subtle but catchy refrain that yields itself very well to live performance.

The next two songs on the record, “Around the World” and “Find Me,” are both solid efforts from the band, but they sold increasingly like b-sides from their last album “Mechanical Bull.” They aren’t great songs, but they serve well as precursors to one of the album’s standout offerings.

“Over” is a marvel of fresh songwriting from a band now in their second decade of existence. It explores a heartbroken individual pleading with their significant other to stay. And at over six minutes in length, this track has lead singer Caleb Followill giving his best attempt at a U2-esque stadium rock song (and he succeeds).

The album gets much more somber after this point, as “Muchacho” and “Conversation Piece” both offer sad thoughts on life and tragedy. “Muchacho” also offers the best guitar solo on the entire record, as guitarist Matthew Followill emotes a beautiful lead line in remembrance of the band’s friend and graphic artist who had passed during the recording of “WALLS.”

After two more solid tracks, “Eyes on You” and “Wild,” the album ends with the best song Kings of Leon has offered in almost a decade.

The title track “WALLS” is the crown jewel of this record, and it may just be the best ballad the band has offered to date.

The song opens with a very somber vocal and guitar refrain that has the listener on the edge of their seat, waiting for the drums and grandness of the rest of the album to kick in, but this song opts for something different.

It isn’t until the four-minute mark when vocalist Caleb Followill begins to belt out a heart-wrenching vocal melody. The track details the sadness associated with having someone you open up to let you down, and even if you are in a happy relationship, this song will have you believing you are about to dive into an ice cream-drenched pit of emotional despair.

If I had to critique an aspect of this record, it would have to be that you have to be in a certain state of mind to fully enjoy it. It is a somber record, so fans of more pop radio-friendly Kings of Leon might feel the album lacks a bit in energy.

“WALLS” is the best album the band has put out in almost in a decade. It is subtle, it is tasteful and it evokes emotion in you that may be lying under the surface.

Kings of Leon didn’t hold anything back on this album, and upon first listen, this record may not allow you to hold back internalized sadness.