This is the album in which the hirsute Kings of Leon finally loan out their sound to an Editors-ready arena crowd. Throw an audience track in the background and Only by the Night could be their Rattle and Hum.
Essentially a funhouse mirror of 2007's far superior Because of the Times, Only by the Night stumbles under the weight of its ambitions by lacking the songs necessary to support them. With the exception of “Use Somebody” and the fuzzcrunched hipgrinder “Crawl,” the band’s desire for forward momentum has superceded their evolution.
This is the album that’s supposed to be the aural epilogue released after spending ten years at the top of the heap, not the prologue that slips out just before the band was about to get there.
At this point, it seems like Kings of Leon might just want to only release new albums in Europe, where the Followill boys are much more popular. But alas, the group long pegged as the "Southern Strokes" continues to fight the good fight of trying to win more recognition in its home country, like a gold medalist archer, even if American audiences haven't much cared for Kings of Leon lately. Or the Strokes, for that matter. What better way to try to grab some attention than by sexing things up a bit? That could be the reasoning behind the first single off Only by the Night, the band's fourth album, being the provocatively titled "Sex on Fire." Sounds like a Red Hot Chili Peppers tune, but don't think that Kings of Leon has gone all funky. The band's sound is still rooted in bloozy classic rock.