The Kings of Leon have exploded onto the mainstream scene with their latest album “Only By The Night.” Sex on Fire, in it’s prime, was heard on every major radio station in North America, or at least it seemed like it. But before this quartet of Tennessee-born rockers made it big, they had 3 albums under their belt. First coming was “Youth and Young Manhood,” a real southern sounding hard rock album, with indecipherable lyrics. Their second album, which we will be going into depth later, is titled “Aha Shake Heartbreak.” It’s my favourite of all, filled with catchy riffs and short, to-the-point songs. Third in line was “Because of the Times.” It was seen by many as an attempt to break into the mainstream, and failed, to a point. It was regarded by critics as a good album, but didn’t sell as expected. Although it contains many solid, Kings of Leon-style tunes, it didn’t achieve the success that was built up around it. “Only By The Night” is their latest, and I’m sure many of you know how that album has done. As a long time KoL fan, I still see it as a decent album. They stayed true to their style in many of the songs (and stayed true to the “5 syllables per album name” rule), they just developed their sound a bit more, and made some tweaks in order to appeal to more people. But now, lets break down the album “Aha Shake Heartbreak.”
1. “Slow Night, So Long”
The song starts off inconspicuous, but that all changes when the drums kick in. It instantly gets your foot tapping, and you think “wow, this album sounds pretty good already.” That’s exactly what it’s designed to accomplish. A lot of style is thrown into this one, with many vocal breaks where the guys just rock out. The ending is probably the most interesting part of the song, it’s the most interesting ending to any other Kings of Leon song I’ve ever heard. It totally changes tempo and Caleb repeats “Rise and shine all you gold digger mothers, are you too good to tango with the poor poor boys” and slowly fades out.
2. “King of the Rodeo”
Oh boy, you know you’re in for a ride when the first note is played. It picks up almost instantly and just takes you away. It’s my favourite Kings of Leon song of all time. It wraps you up in the melody, but the crazy vocals that you can’t understand and the twin guitar playing is phenomenal. You must listen to it live to fully appreciate this song, though.
3. “Taper Jean Girl”
This song has a lyric which is the title of the album, so it is kind of seen as the “title track,” and it does its’ job well. A bit slow, and droning for a Kings of Leon song, but it’s still what you would expect. Great lyrics, drums, and an excellent solo in the middle is what makes this song a great one. Perfect for any party, or hoe-down for that matter, that you would host. A great ending which picks up the tempo sets this song apart from the others.
4. “Pistol of Fire”
This song gives you the impression of an intense gun battle, which is pretty apt considering the title. It seems to alternate from awesome vocals, to awesome guitar solo, and back again. Caleb’s unique vocals are put on display in this one. It’s a pretty good pick-me-up song in the early half of the album. Ends a little abruptly, though. I would have liked to hear a little more of a creative ending to this one.
This one will put you to sleep. It takes too long to get started, and most people will press the skip button on this one. The vocals are pretty much the only thing that happens in this song. A few interludes of drums and bass, but that’s it. You have to have headphones on to fully appreciate it, but even then, it’s not that great. I like to think of it as a bit of an early “Knocked Up.” But what “Knocked Up” accomplishes in a catchy hook, this song does not have.
6. “The Bucket”
Picks up quickly after “Milk” lulls you to sleep. It has a happier tone than most of the other songs on the album. Repeats the chorus throughout, and will have you singing along. The lyrics make absolutely no sense, so don’t even try to figure it out. The only people that know the true meaning behind this one are the Followills. Not their best, but not their worst. It probably won’t bring too many new fans in, but for people who appreciate Kings of Leon music, it’s a must have.
A very recognizable song, right from the first note. A great party song about…partying I assume. I’m not sure what kind of party Caleb has been attending, though. Lyrics like “I’d pop myself in your body/I’d come all over your party but I’m soft” have me wondering. Yeesh. Great song, though. Easy to rock out to and has a neat alternating guitar at the end.
Drums and bass are on show in this short, but effective track. The “Razz the kid!” chorus will have you singing along, and the slick bass line will have your foot tapping. The short chorus, and quick tempo make this song end too quickly. You want it to hang around, but before you know it, it’s over.
9. “Day Old Blues”
This one is pretty much “Milk” part 2. I actually like the “yodeling” part more than others, but it was criticized pretty badly. He basically says “Day ol’ day ol’” funny, and I like it. The bass and harmony are neat in the chorus, but other than that, this song leaves you asking for more. Another song that I’m sure is close to Caleb’s heart, but isn’t exactly what the fans are asking for. The 2 slow songs make the album unique, though in my opinion. They had some guts to put these songs in, and whether it worked or not, it sets them apart. A feat that other Kings of Leon albums fail to match.
10. “Four Kicks”
Another short one, like “Razz.” This one focuses on the drums. There’s a neat little pause in the chorus that shows off some special song writing. How they make it work is beyond me, but it sounds damn good. It’s hard to understand the vocals yet again, but they sound good so who really cares! A great solo caps this song off, and sends it on its’ way.
11. “Velvet Snow”
This one will wake you up if you’ve started to doze off. It has a very quick tempo. Some neat lyrics in this song make it great. It all seems to fit, amid the chaos. Another short one, but then again, this is average for a Kings of Leon song. Caleb’s vocals turn into basically a scream near the end, and it slowly works its’ way into the finish.
Starts off with a circus-like feel. Slowly working its’ way along, like you’re in a drunken stouper. Caleb’s awesome voice comes to play when he spits out some of the few curse words on the album, “And the mother fuckers gonna go to hell.” Damn, he sounds pretty bad-ass when he says it, doesn’t he? Oh yeah, 5 bucks for whoever can tell me what in the world a “rememo” is. Thanks. Great song, though. It ends with the familiar circus feel, playing it into the fade.
13. “Where Nobody Knows”
The bonus track. Does it count? Sure it does. It sounds pretty much like the other songs on the album, fits in very nicely to be honest. “Rememo” may have been a better choice to officially play out the album, but this is a bit slower than the other songs as well, so it works. Caleb’s voice is on display yet again. Nobody can sound like him, and they make a point in showing it off. The way he says “Here it goes now” cannot be imitated, and that’s why I love Kings of Leon. They rock out like nobody else does.
And that’s it! I hope you enjoyed the song-by-song breakdown of Aha Shake Heartbreak, my favourite Kings of Leon album. Although the guys have taken a bit of flack for “selling out” recently, I’ll always be a fan because they created this. One of the best albums in the past decade.