Only By The Night - Kings of Leon

Generally favorable reviews - based on 30 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 15 out of 30
  2. Negative: 3 out of 30
  1. Like many big-sounding albums, Only by the Night is a polarizing piece of work, one that targets new fans at the expense of those who wish Kings of Leon had never shaved their beards or discovered post-'70s rock.
  2. Where surprises could be found with each previous release to give even casual fans something to appreciate, Only by the Night delivers an even serving of Ritalin coma stadium rock destined to raise their prime age demographic.
  3. Surely, we can do better for the platonic ideal of a rock band than four guys gunning for a spot rightfully inhabited by My Morning Jacket but instead coming up with the best songs 3 Doors Down never wrote.
  4. 80
    The four players are able to design the tracks in architectural detail, each part locking into the rest with unerring precission, and this tautness keeps the album from sagging through its most challenging stretch. [Oct 2008, p.78]
  5. Kings of Leon needed to make a very specific sounding type of album in order to seize their moment, and that they have done, entirely successfully. [Oct 2008, p.134]
  6. 60
    Only By The Night is best viewed as a transitional record from a band who have quite literally done their growing up in public. [Oct 2008, p.98]
  7. Only by the Night is long on astral, arena-ready largeness, with blippy keyboards, droney guitars and whoa-oh-oh backing vocals.
  8. It's clear they're ditching the indie legitimacy for the stadium-packing, lighter-waving crowd. Thankfully, it's a fully earnest aesthetic, and the record showcases a variety of songs without being crippled by the indulgent filler of albums past.
  9. Like their last, Only By The Night is front-loaded with world-beaters but then gradually ebbs back to more interchangeable moments. More than ever its strengths, when it succeeds, later become its weaknesses. It tries a mite too hard.
  10. Only By The Night has exposed itself as the weakest Kings Of Leon album. [Fall 2008, p.76]
  11. 80
    On their fourth album, the Kings of Leon still rule with a messy hand, applying rough magic and blurry, slurred imagery to their swashbuckling rock.
  12. This is an album which feels like it was made quickly, not because of artists reaching a terminal velocity of creativity, but to take maximum advantage of an audience who may not be there this time next year.
  13. Throughout Only by the Night, frontman Caleb Followill wails forlornly about cheap thrills and true love while his two brothers (and a cousin) bash? out spooky, raw-edged riffs that rarely go where you expect them to.
  14. Much of Only By the Night is unmistakably the work of a band making music with arenas in mind. Sometimes it's intriguing.
  15. Essentially a funhouse mirror of 2007's far superior "Because of the Times," Only by the Night stumbles under the weight of its ambitions by lacking the songs necessary to support them
  16. While their ambition for evolving remains admirable, their apparent failure to understand their own strengths is troubling and undermines the promise they showed on their previous efforts.
  17. For the most part the record is a sluggish mess of sweeping guitars and stoner-rock sounds, not unlike what you might hear at a high school talent show.
  18. 70
    When Caleb evokes God's wrath on the "crucified U.S.A." or describes lost-highway lonelines, the batter-fried U2 atmospherics and portentous Dixiefied grunge makes his worry as real as Brimstone. [Oct 2008, 2008, p.80]
  19. 70
    They're better when they're reflective, not reflexive, as on the galloping, careening 'Be Somebody' and the mournful 'Cold Desert,' but the album lacks the hooky rock the band once pulled off so effortlessly, even when thry weren't trying. [Fall 2008, p.91]
  20. I have enough faith in this band to presume they’ll eventually see Only By the Night for what it is, as a fourth album hiccup that fails to play to their strengths.
  21. There are a few head-scratchers,....but singer Caleb Followill has never been in better command of his beyond-his-years howl, and he's got monster hooks and melodies yet in his bottle of tricks.
  22. Only by The Night will undoubtedly sell bucketloads but there's no escaping the fact that creatively, Kings Of Leon have stalled.
  23. This isn’t natural territory for Kings of Leon, and it often shows. At times the band seems content to channel the monumental sweep of U2.
  24. Kings of Leon here depend on a major label production budget rather than hooks. Caleb Followill's nasal yelp remains totally disarming, but the stupidity of 'Sex on Fire' douses all credibility.
  25. It’s a tight, very good album and although it’ll have its unfair share of detractors, like the rest of the band’s albums, it will shine no matter what.
  26. Lord knows that's not the sound [arena-ready guitar] likely to revitalize rock music in 2008, but it's generally a convincing fit for the extended Followill clan, whose salty earnestness grounds some epic production.
  27. As it is, it's a very fine record from a band who are seemingly growing in stature, confidence, and ability by the day.
  28. Through headphones or computer speakers, Caleb's echoey vocals just don't ring credible. Their Black-Crowes-go-new-wave choruses are exciting enough, but they feel unearned after tiresome, oversung verses.
  29. The dreamy 'Cold Desert' is the perfect maudlin end to this short, sharp, 42-minute, no-filler album, revelling in every miserable blues-rocker cliché as Matthew's guitar goes all shoegazey and then briefly threatens to turn the whole thing into a 'Purple Rain' wig-out.
  30. It's the mark of a great band when each new album is better than the one before it, and with Only by the Night, Kings of Leon shows once more just how great a band it has become.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 179 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 62 out of 95
  2. Negative: 26 out of 95
  1. WD1
    Apr 27, 2012
    I see reviewers writing whole essays about this album, but I think one word can easily sum up Only By The Night: tame. "Crawl" is actually pretty good, though. Full Review »
  2. Oct 4, 2010
    Never has an album stripped the credibility from a band in such dramatic fashion. 'Crawl' is probably the worst, weakest at the knees and ill-timed stab at political commentary ever written. Kings of Leon: I don't believe you. Full Review »
  3. Oct 30, 2013
    There is no denying that kings of leon changed their sound on this one but it worked. Closer and crawl are two of the best songs they have ever created. Other stand out tracks are I want you and cold desert. Full Review »