Single Review: Kings Of Leon – ‘Back Down South’

“A powerful reminder of Kings Of Leon’s beautifully mature craftsmanship”

4 STARS

Digital Release: July 3, 2011

Physical Release: July 3, 2011

There are very few instances across the history of popular music where you find something that could be said to resemble the perfect or ideal rise to fame. This can be down to be many conflicting factors because fame is not something easily explained, but the rise to fame is something that has a little more tangibility and is more easily rationalised. Constituted through respect – which in itself is highly subjective of the listener – as well as commerciality, style/genre, innovation, talent (or lack thereof), and media exposure to consumers and the general public all act as contributors to the path to fame.

Each factor, of course, needs to be timed precisely, to keep the delicate equilibrium between these forces at a kind of stasis where none of them overcome another to the point where, for instance, talent can be negligible because of media exposure guaranteeing fame and success.

But Kings Of Leon have enjoyed the perfect such a rise to fame. After three fairly underground albums building a strong supporting fanbase, they needed only to release a commercial song (‘Sex On Fire’) before they could fully take the limelight. The problem was though, that once they were in said limelight, their quality diminished very obviously in comparison to their previous works, thus disrupting the equilibrium they’d held with such expertise. But since ‘Come Around Sundown’ was released, some of the integral quality of their more rustic, Southern American rock has returned to the welcoming arms of many, but after lead single ‘Radioactive’ did the rounds, it seems like they’d disappeared underground again, with the magnificently sombre ‘Pyro’ and the enormous stadium-rock ‘The Immortals’ going completely unnoticed.

And whilst ‘Back Down South’ will inevitably follow the same path under the radar of most radio and music TV stations, to those who give it the respect it asks for it’s a powerful reminder of Kings Of Leon’s beautifully mature craftsmanship. Like the bluesy paradise Caleb’s richly distinct voice illustrates, ‘Back Down South’ is a dreamy soft-rock affair, with a simple hook and a modest instrumentation reminiscent of Bryan Adams’s more refined and mellow moments.

So whilst the song will do nothing on the Singles Chart, and indefinitely little more on the Albums Chart, ‘Back Down South’ is still a wonderfully sophisticated reflection of home life that still retains everything Kings of Leon pride themselves in – or at least, everything they prided themselves in before ‘Only By The Night’. And even if their fame had trailed off mid-way though their fourth album’s campaign, this song will procure for their fanbase 

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