Tennessee's Kings of Leon emerged in 2003 wholly and hotly embraced by the Brits, who touted the band as "Southern Strokes," postpunk without the detachment. And judging by the quartet's horny panting on Aha Shake Heartbreak, it's clear Kings of Leon are still crazy from the heat, but that's more from the white light, white heat of a "New York garage band" doing that SoHo strut instead of the Southern boogie. Except for stompers "Pistol of Fire" and "Four Kicks," Aha Shake Heartbreak is frequently a jaunty jangle with scratchy down strokes. While more instrumentally accomplished than Kings of Leon's debut, it's a record that's oddly accessible only after repeated listens. The taut, too-twangy musicianship buffs away at early peaks and valleys, leaving a rigidly dense, transitional effort.
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