© 2005, 2006 Static and Feedback
All rights reserved
|The Kings branch out on
Aha Shake Heartbreak
Kings Of Leon
Aha Shake Heartbreak (RCA)
By NICK TAVARES
STATIC and FEEDBACK Editor
Back from the south and on the road again, Kings of
Leon have dropped their latest collection of fuzzy, twangy
guitars and unintelligible lyrics on the public. Their
second album, Aha Shake Heartbreak, follows roughly
the same sound as their debut, Youth and Young
Manhood, but strays away. They try new things, branch
out in couple of different directions, and generally attempt
to grow as a band. It’s not unsuccessful, but there’s
something just a little bit off about the whole deal.
The album is unmistakably the Kings. Caleb Followill’s vocals still have the same raspy, infectious, 13th-floor-
elevators-esque warble, and the raucous garage sound is still there. “Pistols of Fire,” for example, has the
swagger, edge and groove of the best the family Followill has to offer. The driving beat really pushes here, and
the lyrics are incredibly obtuse and great, all at the same time. Lines like “I feel the water out in the cool
grass/down in the meadow under the tree/it's gonna tickle, you're gonna giggle/it's gonna tickle, tickle for free.”
Can you analyze that? Of course not. Does it sound good? You betcha.
There are plenty of moments that rank right with, or near, “Pistols of Fire” on Aha Shake Heartbreak. “Velvet
Snow,” “Four Kicks” and “Kings of the Rodeo” would probably rank as favorites for some, and understandably
so. They haven’t forgotten how to rip the strings off a guitar, that’s not the problem. It’s the few paths taken away
from the main road. They don’t make this a bad record, but they leave it feeling unfinished.
“Milk” is the perfect model for this. The vocals, draped over a low-key accompaniment, really stand out. It’s very
slow and very mellow, and I have a different opinion about it everytime I hear it. The first time I was curious, the
second time I liked it, the third time it annoyed me, the fourth time I liked it again, etc. But no matter what, I keep
feeling like there’s something not quite right about it. Maybe it’s the placement right in the middle of the record
that throws me off, or maybe its how incredibly creepy his voice sounds. Still, I haven’t skipped it yet.
“Day Old Blues” is an acoustic number that really succeeds. Like the Stones’ “Moonlight Mile,” it helps break up
the noise with a reflective tone. Still, this is the other end of the unfinished-ness of this album. Could they have
done more like this? Did they want to? No idea. But it’s a great song.
I’d probably wager that any fan of the brothers (and cousins) Followill will not be disappointed in this record. Nor
should they be, it’s solid. But the band is also growing up, and they likely realized they couldn’t just make their
debut again. In five years or so, this will probably end up being looked at as a “transition” record, something that
came before a masterpiece/disaster.
Well, don’t wait to find out if it is or isn’t. Pick it up and see for yourself. You might be left feeling challenged by it,
but I promise you won’t feel cheated.