Youth And Young Manhood

Kings Of Leon

RCA, 2003

REVIEW BY: Christopher Thelen


I'll be honest...I don't like Kings Of Leon. I hate their song “Sex On Fire,” and if I ever hear “Use Somebody” again, I'm gonna start punching kittens.

So why in the hell, the reader wonders, is this idiot writing a review of Youth And Young Manhood, the debut effort by the Followill family? Well, why not?!? I go into the preparation of each and every music review I do, before I dare to hit the “play” button, with an open mind, and not thinking, “This is gonna suck...” Besides, readers tend to like it when I have to admit I'm wrong about something...and they take great pride in shoving my face in that steaming pile of humble pie.

So, what better place to start than Youth And Young Manhood, Kings Of Leon's 2003 debut effort? And, I have to admit, while there are some songs that had me cringing, there were some strong efforts as well that, yes, I'd be more than willing to listen to repeatedly.my_heart_sings_the_harmony_web_ad_alt_250

I'll get this out of the way first... I cannot stand Caleb Followhill's style of singing. Delivering his vocals sometimes in an incoherent manner, other times with a nasal drawl, still others with an off-key Dylan-like wail, it sounds like he is trying to imitate his favorite vocalists of all time, not succeeding in capturing any of the good points of their deliveries.

Ah, say the readers, but it's not just about the singer, you meathead, it's the music and songwriting that matter just as much, if not more. And, I have to admit, I don't want to like songs such as “Happy Alone,” “Molly's Chambers,” “Spiral Staircase” and “Holy Roller Novocaine”...but I do. Matthew Followhill's lead guitar work might not be the flashiest, but it seems to fit the mold for these songs perfectly, while the rhythm section of bassist Jared Followhill and drummer Nathan Followhill proves to be solid on these tracks.

This isn't to say everything is perfect on Youth And Young Manhood – in fact, there is a lot of room for improvement. I don't know what Kings Of Leon were trying to accomplish with “Dusty,” but the pseudo-Western style the song is written in just doesn't work for me. Likewise, Caleb Followhill's caterwauling on “Joe's Hero” grates like nails on a blackboard, while other songs, such as “Red Morning Light” and “Trani” fail to keep my interest.

And then, there's the “hidden track”... I swear, I don't know why artists think it's cute to tack on long periods of silence after the “final” song fades out before a bonus (and I use that term loosely) track is thrown at the listener. In the case of “Talahina Sky,” with the exception of the piano work of Matthew Followhill, this song is completely worthless.

So what would have made Youth And Young Manhood a better release? Simply put, more focus on solid songwriting and vocal delivery could have made this disc nearly unstoppable. As it sits, it's an okay debut effort – not great by any stretch of the word, but not abysmal.

I can't say I'm any bigger of a fan of Kings Of Leon having listened to the disc...but I will admit there's room for them to grow on me. And that, children, is called progress.

Rating: C+

User Rating: Not Yet Rated



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