Kings of Leon – When You See Yourself
Kings of Leon’s new album When You See Yourself positions the group as prophets of grown-up rock who speak to our troubled times. At this point in their career this band of brothers (Caleb, Jared and Nathan along with their cousin, Matthew) have very little to prove. Instead of attempting to reinvent themselves, their latest record has an introspective and experimental quality while at the same time retaining the distinctive sound of their earlier work. When You See Yourself is prescient rather than angry and exemplifies how aiming to create a great record instead of grasping for sales can produce excellent results.
The tracks were recorded in Nashville – with Arcade Fire and Florence and the Machine producer Markus Drav – and completed in December 2019, but delayed due to Covid. Despite this, many of the songs feel as though they could have been written during quarantine or as a response to the riots and social unrest in the US over the past year. Claire & Eddie seemingly predicts the riots: “fire’s gonna rage if people don’t change”. While Time in Disguise questions: “is it a man or a masked machine?” and Echoing wonders if “we’re ever going out / We could be here for ever without a doubt”. Supermarket with its refrain: “I’m going nowhere/ You’ve got the time” sums up most people’s experience of lockdown.
At the same time as being lockdown anthems and prophecies of social unrest, tunes such as Time in Disguise, which looks back at where they have come as bands, is a very strong and mature song. As is Claire and Eddie which has a timeless feel to it. The Bandit begins with the characteristic guitar riffs usually associated with the musicians but feels more controlled than their previous sound, which far from being a criticism, illustrates how every creative decision seems more intentional in this album. This contributes to its more mature overall feel.
When You See Yourself shows the groups’s evolution. It is a polished, enjoyable and pensive work that prioritises storytelling over rock’n’roll guitar gimmicks and youthful bursts of rockstar anger. It feels like the soundtrack of our times and it will be exciting to see how Kings of Leon develops from here.
Photo: Matthew Followill
When You See Yourself is released on 5th March 2021. For further information or to order the album visit Kings of Leon’s website here.
Watch the video for the single here: