Kings of Leon

    Aha Shake Heartbreak

    7

    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.

    [more:]

    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.

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