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Kings of Leon

Critics' pick
Photo: Dan Winters
Kings of Leon

By the time of Come Around Sundown, their fifth album in seven years, Kings of Leon were audibly exhausted. The sun-bleached redneck pop of that album aimed for lazing, ended up at lazy. Which is what makes Mechanical Bull such a pleasant surprise. The Followills charge through its sharpest set of songs in ages, losing the cockiness (and the generally icky songs about their cocks) that made them disappointing during their peak. They've become the middle of the Venn diagram between the Killers and Eric Church. If they can keep cranking out a "Temple" every couple years, we'll look forward to seeing them continually at the state fairs of the future.

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