It’s the tale of yet another rock band struggling with a severe identity crisis. It’s the tale of two different albums smashed together into one.
Mechanical Bull is the sixth studio release from Kings of Leon, but without many memorable moments and a whole mess of different directions, the album will fade into the forgettable corners of Kings of Leon’s discography.
For the first half of Mechanical Bull, Kings of Leon has abandoned the modern route they were taking with 2008’s Only By The Night, which, to fans of their older albums, is great news. It’s also great news to those who never want to hear frontman Caleb Followill sing anything like the chorus of “Use Somebody” again. Instead, Mechanical Bull has less vocal-centric moments and relies on full-band orchestration to carry it from beginning to end.
The first half of the album is classic-rock, while the second half is an awkward, mid-album jump between genres. Songs like “Comeback Story” attempt to be less guitar-centric and feature the use of string melodies, but it feels out of place compared to the rest of the album. They try a soulful, a cappella melody towards the end of “Family Tree” that also feels misplaced.
Mechanical Bull could have bridged Kings of Leon’s split fan base if they committed to either style. Instead, both halves of the fan base will feel cheated. Kings of Leon have tried so many different routes with this new album that the final product is disoriented.
After hearing Mechanical Bull, anyone who was unsure of whether or not they should see Kings of Leon at this year’s Austin City Limits Music Festival can remove the band from their list.