Label: RCA Records
Released: 5th March 2021
In their earliest days, Kings of Leon were a ramshackle band of brothers (and their cousin) who always felt thrillingly close to coming off the tracks. For a while, they rattled around with joyous abandon in the name of good fun. It was glorious.
And then, at some point, things got serious. Not that serious is bad – serious is fine, someone has to be a grown-up – but the more mature Kings of Leon were a different band. It made them one of the biggest groups on the planet, a mainstay of the radio airwaves and a household name, but they lost something too.
Because while serious may not always be a reasonable criticism, safe most certainly is. ‘When You See Yourself’ feels like a record that’s very self-aware of its own position. Worried about colouring outside the lines, instead it feels to keep well within Kings of Leon’s latter-day boundaries at all times – often to the point of a lack of definition. ‘The Bandit’, for example, is fine – it’s a decent enough Kings of Leon song and all – but what that means in terms of continued relevance in an era of teenage prodigies and genreless expression is debatable at best.
Kings of Leon will continue to be a big deal, but who they’re speaking to is important too. Increasingly, they feel like a band with the doors to entry closed, ageing out with an audience no longer looking for something new. That’s okay for them, but they’re capable of so much more.