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Kings of Leon Recount Their Evolution in New Album "Can We Please Have Fun"

Updated: May 19

*Piece written for Off The Record Press

Talent runs in the Followill family, that’s for sure! Kings of Leon is made up of brothers Caleb, Jared, and Nathan alongside their cousin Matthew, and they’ve returned with their ninth studio album Can We Please Have Fun. It represents their evolution as people and as a band, while still staying true to their roots. They’re back and ready to kick ass once again.

Photo via Esquire

You may remember the band for their radio hits from the late 2000s, but this version of them is much different from the catchy-alt that we’ve heard from them before. They’ve chosen a softer approach to the new album, opening with track “Ballerina Radio”, which to me seems to be a reflection on the past. “All the books I never learned to read / Ones about detectives chasing leads / Wiser men than I, all philosophize.” It has a shiny and nostalgic vibe that makes you feel like you’re driving with your head out the window, like a scene from a coming of age movie. It sets the tone for “Rainbow Ball”, which speaks about good vibrations and the bittersweetness of being in love.

It seems like the unsureness of the current state of our world has been on everyone’s mind recently. They touch on this in “Nowhere To Run”. This song definitely pulls me back into some of the parts that I love most about them, a fun bass line and crunchy guitars, and yet it has a maturity in its content and overall composition that reflects this turning point for them. Feeling stuck and with no direction to go in is something we all experience, and their take on that is beautifully put and well executed. “I heard a baby in the rear of the plane start to cry / I saw panic on the faces of people that fly / I'm just waiting for a beverage to accompany my pie.”

“Mustang” brings in some fun and goofiness to what’s been so far a pretty serious album. “If you're free tomorrow, don't make any plans / We can go to Sylvan Park and kick over trash cans.”  This was also the first single released for this album. “Actual Daydream” has pieces of their Nashville roots in it with a little bit of country influence. The chorus is catchy and the guitar work is perfection, leaving an incredibley danceable and composed track.

Another major influence in our modern day world is the use of social media and technology, something that was not near as prevalent back in 1999 when the band was first getting started. “Split Screen” touches on how those things can change a situation. “Another modern innovation / This time, I mean it / A hazard of the occupation / Desire when needed / Set it down before you break it.” This track leaves a lot of room for interpretation, though. Towards the end of it, the lyrics seem to transition into a message regarding a relationship rather than innovation.

Don’t Stop the Bleeding” opens with a few lines of delayed vocals and goes straight into a quite interesting set of lyrics. “Why you always look so sad? / I think you're rad / Don't stop the bleeding / Why would you say / Just barely breathing?”  I take this as a very unique way of portraying someone dealing with depression. Sometimes it’s too difficult to seek help, and it’s easier to just let yourself hurt, and I think that’s what this song is saying. How hard it is to see someone you love deal with these things and not be able to do anything to help. A very heavy topic, sure, but it once again shows the way that the band has evolved into writing about experiences in a more raw way.

The catchiest song on the album, “Nothing To Do” immediately introduces you to a dark bass line and slightly distorted vocals, moving into true indie-rock guitars filled with lots of texture and scratchiness. “M Television” recounts the memories of what seems to be a good relationship filled with big dreams, hopes, and no regrets. There’s a good chance that the “M” in the title of the song could stand for memory, and if it does, I think that’s kind of a genius title. There’s been plenty of times when I’ve been with someone I love and go home to replay those memories in my head with a smile on my face, sort of like a TV screen in my mind. This track feels like falling in love for the first time, making mistakes but never regretting them, and taking the world head-on. “Hesitation Gen” is another very indie-rock and excellent song to sing along to, which is a specialty of Kings of Leon, so I was pleased to see that so many of the songs on this album still hold that energy. “Ease Me On” is the resident song of yearning, saying, “Ease me on / When the timing is aligning / You will know.” It’s a very sweet track that emanates the feeling of softness falling in love brings.

The journey through this album has made me feel like I’m sitting on the porch of a home in the middle of nowhere and staring out at the world, just contemplating things. The good, the bad, the memories, the future, everything that shapes our lives to be what they are in the present. Closing track “Seen” is a wonderful way to end this album, and perfectly captures the feeling of being at a “home on the hillside”, as per the lyrics. Like many of the others, it brings a feeling of distant nostalgia and stirs emotions simply with its melody and instrumentals. I think this is exemplified by the chimes at the end of the track, too. This album is worth listening to all the way through in one sitting and allowing yourself to bask in these ideas. Kings of Leon did not let their fans down with Can We Please Have Fun.

Catch them on tour summer 2024! (Photo via Kings of Leon)

Catch them on tour this summer! Photo via Kings of Leon


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