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[Radio rock]

Kings of Leon’s fifth LP might be its most radical departure yet

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Annie Zaleski

Kings of Leon

Come Around Sundown
Two and a half stars

With each new album, Kings of Leon isn’t afraid to nudge its sound into uncharted territory. In fact, Come Around Sundown, the quartet’s fifth LP, might be its most radical departure yet. Instead of prickly, wiry urgency, Sundown has easygoing tempos, softened riffs and Caleb Followill’s sleepy-eyed, Southern-fried vocals. A few gems emerge from these toned-down atmospheres, however. The pedal-steel-and-fiddle-burnished “Back Down South” is a sincere highlight that conjures The Eagles, while the proto-rock ’n’ roll-inspired “Mary” pays homage to ’50s icons with a scorching guitar solo. “Beach Side” is Dire Straits hanging out in the hotel lounge, and Sundown’s standout, “Pony Up,” features deep-wound bass, EKG-monitor riffs and busy-switchboard percussion. Unfortunately, the latter’s lively nature helps magnify the album’s overall lack of bristling energy. Sundown’s radio-friendly shimmers are superficially pleasing, but its dearth of fiery passion ultimately keeps it from living up to the band’s best work.

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