The first thing that should be mentioned about Come Around Sundown, Kings of Leon’s fifth studio album, is that none of it’s 13 tracks match the god-awfulness of “Sex On Fire” or “Use Somebody.” The album that contained those overblown pieces of cheese, 2008’s Only By The Night, saw the Tennessee band trade in the southern charms and sensibilities of their early work for stadium sized ambitions and the idea that every moment of every song had to be of U2 proportions.

The financial returns were phenomenal, gaining the band scores of new fans, while at the same time ostracizing those who had followed them since 2003’s Youth and Young Manhood. While it is nowhere near as bad as it could have been, Come Around Sundown is a forgettable collection of songs that reiterate how the chase of fame and fortune can compromise a band’s artistic merits.

It’s readily apparent from the first notes of album opener “The End” that the Followills have not abandoned their quest to be the biggest rock band on the planet. The song’s huge chorus and self-important tone would not sound out of place next to slightly more blatant commercial rock of Daughtry or late-era Aerosmith. Lead single “Radioactive” contains a guitar line that can be mistaken for a keyboard preset, while “Mary” sounds like a tribute to 80’s hair metal bands such as Def Leppard, complete with over sung verses and a heavily distorted guitar solo. Not only do the songs sound contrived, they lack the staying power of songs from the band’s early catalog, as they tend to let the tracks here get swallowed up in their grandiosity.

Whereas the lyrics on earlier Kings of Leon albums were interesting depictions of Southern living and it’s people’s perspectives on life, death, and everything in between, Come Around Sundown is filled with clichés and wordings that are nothing more than empty gestures This is because lead singer Caleb Followill decided to ad-lib most of the album’s lyrics in the studio rather than write them out before the recording process. As such, phrases like “Little shaking babies and drunkards seem to all agree: Once the show gets started its bound to be a sight to see” (off of “Pyro”) rear their nonsensical heads into the final product. It’s as if the lyrics were an afterthought, making the majority of songs here real head scratches.

Determined not to be labeled as sellouts, the band tries to remind listeners that they haven’t forgotten their roots with mid-album cut “Back Down South.” With allusions to dancing, “spitting on the rivals,” and “pretty little girls naked to their curves,” the band aims to capture the essence of the region they used to depict so well. The uninspiring lyrics and banal use of steel slide guitar and honky-tonk violin lends an inauthentic feel to the song, serving as a metaphor for the band’s trajectory. While they have achieved massive success by shooting for the stars, they have forgotten the honesty and down to earth story telling that made them compelling all those years ago.

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