With their raw, organic sound, Tennessee's Kings of Leon emerged in 2003 as Southern rock for the indie-garage set, sort of a Strokes for the South. While there were hints of a new direction on their third album, BECAUSE OF THE TIMES, its follow-up, ONLY BY THE NIGHT, follows through with a near-reinvention of the Kings' sound. ONLY BY THE NIGHT could be mistaken for avant-indie cult heroes the Liars on a Southern vacation, as post-punk angularity, distorto-funk bass lines, and clattering percussion are processed through what sounds like the world's biggest fuzzbox. While there are old-glory moments of garagey abandon, most of these tracks sound like someone sat and carefully considered the best way to frame them. And that's the difference between making a good album and making a great one.
Rolling Stone (p.70) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "ONLY BY THE NIGHT is long on astral, arena-ready largeness, with blippy keyboards, droney guitars and whoa-oh-oh backing vocals. Frontman Caleb Followill cranks up his Allman Brothers howl..."
Rolling Stone (p.91) - Ranked #20 in Rolling Stone's 50 Best Albums Of 2008 -- "[I]t's a brighter, fuller Southern rock."
Spin (p.108) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "[T]he Kings of Leon still rule with a messy hand, applying rough magic and blurry, slurred imagery to their swashbuckling rock."
Spin (p.49) - Ranked #21 in Spin's "40 Best Albums Of 2008" -- "[T]hey've gradually swapped out their Strokes-via-Skynyrd posturing for U2-leaning arena rock."
Entertainment Weekly (p.95) - "Throughout NIGHT, frontman Caleb Followill wails forlornly about cheap thrills and true love while his two brothers (and a cousin) bash out spooky, raw-edged riffs that rarely go where you expect them to." -- Grade: B+
Mojo (Publisher) (p.98) - 3 stars out of 5 -- "ONLY BY THE NIGHT is packed with songs about being rootless, alienated, misunderstood....It's impressive stuff."
Blender (Magazine) (p.108) - "It conjures up images of a more refined band -- the songs have overall a slower pace, and so sounds more considered, more deliberate, more reflective."
Clash (magazine) (p.72) - Ranked #1 in Clash's "The 40 Best Albums of 2008" -- "[With an] audacious palette of deep, dark and desolate sonic shades."