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Kings of Leon

Because of the Times (RCA)

Kings of Leon are commanding quite a racket these days. Made up of three brothers — sons of a Pentecostal preacher — and their cousin, the band has been hailed by some as the savior of Southern rock. Their third album, Because of the Times, is an ironic little mixture of hellfire and subversion. And while such a description is intriguing, it's still hard to get a handle on where they're heading with all of it. Some songs allow for moments of repose — via the slow moan of "Trunk" and the weary sprawl of "Arizona" and "True Love Way" — yet others are a tangle of skittish tempos and jittery, acid-fried rumblings. Singer Caleb Followill goads and exhorts his masses, igniting them on the kinetic song "Fans" with cheeky lyrics, then woos audiences on the reggae-fueled tune "Ragoo." Flush with self-indulgence, sounding manic and unhinged, Followill's rants and wails infuse these tunes with a sound that veers from chaos to cacophony. Propulsive boogies and ragged shuffles may be common to the majority of Dixie's denizens, but Kings of Leon's skewered sendups suggest it's a freak bird, not a free bird, that rules their roost.

 
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