orangeleader.com (Orange, Texas)

Entertainment

September 24, 2013

Kings of Leon return refreshed, recharged

(Continued)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. —

And everyone in the room is laughing again.

It's been like this a lot lately, and the Followills hope "Mechanical Bull" serves as a palette cleanser. They've played about 50 shows since Dallas without incident, including a string of well-received festival headlining dates that includes this week's Global Citizen Festival in New York's Central Park and next month's Austin City Limits Festival. And bouncy new single "Supersoaker" is in the top 10 on Billboard's alternative rock songs list.

The vibe is much different than that of 2010's "Come Around Sundown." ''Bull" starts a new chapter in the band's narrative. They rushed into "Sundown" in the aftermath of worldwide hits "Use Somebody" and "Sex on Fire." That sudden popularity caused a surprising backlash with their original fan base, which was fervent but small. "Sundown" was recorded as the Followills were trying to sort out what direction they wanted to go, and the album sounds stressed and tired because of it.

"We went somewhere in the middle," Jared Followill said. "They say strike while the iron's hot, and we definitely struck while the iron was hot, but we kind of struck with a wooden hammer, you know? We kind of just didn't go all out."

They took much of a year off, disconnected from the rock 'n' roll grind, and slowly worked their way back into music. They remodeled an old industrial paint warehouse into a recording studio and worked in their own space for the first time.

"Once you start thinking about how much it costs to record a guitar solo, you're already in the wrong head-space," Nathan Followill said.

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