You’re not supposed to embrace Kings of Leon, their hair feathered and tussled, their clothes vintage and too small. You’d rather call them Strokes rip-offs — that band, of course, having dry-humped the entire 1970s — write off their Southern posturing as manufactured, maybe shout "Dirty hippies!" if ever they were in earshot.
Aha Shake Heartbreak wants to change that kind of thinking without letting on that it wants to change that kind of thinking. There’s subtle growth from their 2003 debut, Youth & Young Manhood, but what this follow-up confirms is that their first time out was no fluke.
Returning to the fold is lead singer and guitarist Caleb Followill’s raspy vox. It’s a band trademark by now, cheekily egged on by the (should I say it?) chugging guitars and pitter-patter percussion thump in songs like "Slow Night, So Long," "Taper Jean Girl" and "The Bucket."
But most remarkable are the curveballs: the "Tropicalia"-styled breakdown that follows "Slow Night, So Long"; the atmospheric build-up in "Milk"; the garage trashiness of "Four Kicks"; the swaying "Rememo." All this and still there’s "King of the Rodeo," where the "good times roll" refrain rides off into the night, leaving us to chase after it.