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Kings of Leon Make Their No-Stakes Fuck-Around Album

Band’s ninth LP, Can We Please Have Fun, is their loosest and most spontaneous in two decades
Kings of Leon (Photo credit: Matthew Followill)

Kings of Leon – Can We Please Have Fun
LoveTap/Capitol

There’s nothing subtle about Kings of Leon’s pivot on their ninth LP, but subtlety has never done this band any good anyway. After two drearily self-serious albums that mistook solemnity for profundity, 2016’s WALLS and 2021’s When You See Yourself, the Followill quartet leave behind producer Markus Dravs and the oppressive U2 of it all on Can We Please Have Fun, an explicit attempt to reintroduce some levity into their sound. It’s a welcome change, and not only by virtue of being a change.

Fun isn’t the obvious return-to-rock basics play it could have been, but rather something much more interesting: a no-stakes fuck-around album, the band’s loosest and most spontaneous in two decades. With its rumpled blues-rock riff, “Mustang” channels the Black Keys by way of Pavement’s “Stereo,” right down to the sideways satricality of Caleb Followill’s sendups of masculinity. “A muscle magazine next to the toilet / I’m getting big and strong, just thinking about it!” he sings with chesty relish. Who knew he was even capable of jokes at this point, let alone making himself the butt of one?

Kings dial their usual bellow and wallow routine way down, while mustering just enough passion for the album’s occasional rock setpieces: “Hesitation Gen” and “Seen” are their most effective rippers in several albums, content to aim a tick below the rafters this band stopped hitting long ago. After so many humorless records that tried twice as hard for a fraction of the returns, it’s a treat hearing them kick back and settle for doing a little bit less for a change. – GRADE: B-

LoveTap/Capitol