By now, many should know The Kings Of Leon. The band is made up of three brothers and a first cousin, all with big '70s hair and throwback style. There's a lot of talk about their "look," but what many people need to understand is that there are no stylists behind their big hair and no professional shoppers behind their old T-shirts and flared jeans. To the guys in the band, they have no look at all. They wear what they always have. It's everyone else who now think that it's "cool." Meaningless image discussions behind us, the Kings Of Leon are honest with who they are, and that is why they made the album they did. Earlier this year, the band released the Holy Roller Novocaine EP, a collection of five tracks recorded with Ethan Johns (Ryan Adams, Brendan Benson). The EP was fantastic; it had great songs, tight instrumentation and was a fresh take on the Southern Rock sound, though it was polished and featured tame, lazy-sounding vocals by lead singer Caleb Followill. On Youth And Young Manhood, however, Ethan Johns turned him loose. Caleb screams, howls, and belts out his vocals, giving it every last drop of his being. Lead guitarist Matthew Followill is an encyclopedia of classic Southern rock riffs, and his solos are filled with passion and frantic desire. This is how the band sounds live, and this is the album the Kings Of Leon wanted to make.
Four songs that appeared first on the on the EP, "Wasted Time," "California Waiting," Molly's Chambers," and "Holy Roller Novocaine," were all re-recorded for inclusion on Youth And Young Manhood. All four sound less polished, stripped down, and more aggressive, but "California Waiting" is almost a new song. It was transformed from a pop gem into a rock & roll explosion that completely sums up the album. New songs like "Red Morning Light," "Spiral Staircase," and "Joe's Head" are forces to be reckoned with, making this entire album free of "skippable" tracks.
After Leon, father of three members, and namesake of the band, quit his ministry in favor of the bottle, the Kings Of Leon decided to give their mind, body and souls to their music and Youth And Young Manhood is a direct result of that. Where many bands are persuaded to be something they're not, the Kings Of Leon stayed true to themselves and made a record that truly reflects their live performances. It is their album, and that is what makes it great.