A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this music.
What parents need to know
Parents need to know that this Southern garage rock band is suffused with a not-so-catchy rock twang that speaks to those who seem to be stuck in warped drama. Major themes are breaking free from small-town doldrums, courageous manifestos that either make or break careers, and the gratifying, gravitational pull of women. There are also placid moments, like one crystallized in the song "The Runner," where the band sincerely appeals to Jesus for salvation. Real life through the lens of this band is a turbulent roller coaster of romance, but at least it's a band that manages to pull off an entire album with only one questionable word ("asshole") and little else to be worried about.
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
A weird thing happened to Kings of Leon on the way to the studio to record BECAUSE OF THE TIMES. Brothers Caleb, Nathan, Jared, and cousin Matthew threw out their former rock sound for darker, deliberately obtuse rock with a slight pop-punk feel. What results is music worthy of teeth-clenching and fist-pumping swaying throughout the entire album. Though there are a few placid moments (in \"The Runner,\" the band sincerely appeals to Jesus for salvation), the album otherwise zeros in on soulful but lost themes that are on the tormented, pessimistic side. For example, \"Knocked Up\" and \"True Love Way\" exhibit a heart-wrenching perspective about love as all or nothing. Words resound over guitar riffs that slowly build up as the tale of hurt reaches an apex in \"True Love Way\" (\"For a young man it's a heck of a wage/ I'm still shaky when I see your face\").
Is it any good?
Kings of Leon opt for melodrama in lyrics, but cushion the blow with expansive instrumentals that add a spaciousness to the other content. Parents should know that the lovers in "Knocked Up" believe in having a baby out of wedlock: "People call us renegades because we like living crazy…I don't care what nobody says/no I'm going to be her lover." The final track, "Arizona," is a lighter, well-balanced song stripped down to an organic sound resembling a meeting between Lynyrd Skynyrd and Neil Young.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about how this band expresses themselves in songs that are one-dimensional time capsules. What does the lyricist believe in and why? How accurate is this portrait? Families can discuss the difference between subjective (emotional and abstract) and objective (words with rational, fair aim) content. Families with teens can also talk about how music portrays love. Why do some bands only talk about love as angst-ridden if it's also multifaceted?