Being a staple in rock music since 2003, the three brothers and a cousin know how to create a tune that everyone loves from the indie lads in the field or ye nan. Influencing every guitar-based band ever since is not an easy feat yet critics pan them as they make good plain and simple rock. Selling over twenty-one million albums worldwide shows the critics are not always right cause it is what the audience wants, ask and they will receive. The “Southern Strokes” are known for the arena filling ditties and a crowd singalong.

“Can we please have fun” is Kings of Leons ninth album. Speaking to Spin magazine bassist Jared states, “It was personal at first, and then once we kind of got into it, it felt something a little more grand than that.” The band go back to basics doing what they do best.

Kicking the album off with “Ballerina Radio” show the band on a delicate note. The vocals appear isolated, and a slight echo is present. The ominous bassline which is persistent throughout aligns with the lyrics feeling of reminiscing and looking back on what has been which is nicely summed up in the lyric “general admission of your guilt.” Before everything comes together as the vocals come to the forefront.

“Rainbow ball” is lyrically inept (which is a frequent theme throughout). However, the guitar rips through the words showing the musical capability that everyone knows of. The drum and bass are used as a countdown before the guitar come through and the speed fastens, and Caleb goes into a rap like delivery.

“Nowhere to run” is a personal favourite with the drums being simple but effective and being lyrically strong answering the album’s questions as well as bigging the listener up with “When I leave, you’ll come chasing after me.” The guitar shows elements of classic KOL or more particularly garage rock.

The lead single “Mustang” lyrically talks tales of a dystopian land. The finger picking style creates an isolated feeling with the bass and synth filling the void. But the lyrics just come across as waffle.

“Actual daydream” gives a feeling of vulnerability that you do not often see within rock as clearly. The guitars again show what Kings of Leon do right with the rhythm system showing maturity you only get with age.

Yet another single with “split screen” use synths but in a way not seen before being at the forefront then the drums come in and keep a steady rhythm whilst the rest of the instruments create a layered sound. Lyrically, it pays homage to their mother.

“Don’t stop the bleeding” shows the vulnerability like “Actual daydream” does. The backing vocals are heard for the first time clearly creating an effect of being a guiding voice in the dystopian place they are creating.

The guitar work on “Nothing to do” pumps life into the band allowing them to explore similar avenues as their younger self. The bassline sounds like something Krist Novoselic would have created. Lyrically it is their strongest with a line from the lips of Stevie Nicks “Touched by the thunder and kissed by the rain.” The change in the vocal delivery gives the sense there is a lot of excitement brewing within the band even previously stating it has been their favourite to make which could be the recency bias showing.

“M Television” is a classic Kings of Leon song being able to fit on any of their albums. Caleb gives a strong vocal performance which is reminiscent   of what you have heard on the radio which the rest of the album has not hit to this point. Each band member is allowed time to show off without clashing with another.

The break in “Hesitation Gen” shows a stylistic choice which is like they are hesitating to carry the song on. The howling of the guitars creates a fast-paced song like the band are trying to get there. Lyrically its more upbeat than the rest of the album.

“Ease on me” loses the happiness of the previous song as the breakdown of the relationship is hinted at whilst the end talks about being together again one more. The rhythm section allows the vocals to be delicate without overpowering them.

The beginning of “Seen” seems similar to “Is This It” by The Strokes before the vocals creates an all-new monster. The guitar work is calling for a long-lost lover and the rhythm section is tight. The lyrics again are about a relationship that once was. The right way to end the album.

As an album, its good but a lot of it feels like filler rather than the stadium rock we are used to from the band. “Nowhere to run” is an instant crowd pleaser and should immediately be put into the setlist. There could have been better songs used for singles like “M television “and “Nowhere to run” which are the two strongest on the album. Musically it’s strong showing all the band in a positive light, however, lyrically in some songs it loses itself. It feels like the band has nothing to say and just throws words together. The album as a whole does not taint the discography of the band, but it does not add to it massively other than the odd tune.

Kings of Leon: Can We Please Have Fun – 10th May 2024 (Polydor)

Of Leon – Nothing To Do (