Caleb Followill still sounds like Bruce Springsteen trying to pass a kidney stone the size of a croquet ball.
“It’s always the same and I’m always the same,” the Kings of Leon frontman sing-growls on “Don’t Matter,” a song meant to reassert something that Followill seems agitated to be reasserting: he and his band’s ability to weather storms, even when the cloud fronts are self-created.
Emerging from a brief hiatus with “Mechanical Bull,” an album where lazy grooves suddenly become taut from one track to the next, the band has packed all the turbulence of the past few years — drunken shows, canceled tours, Twitter beef, etc. — into a record on which friction’s sparks catalyze roaring flames.
— Jason Bracelin