Only By The Night

  • Record Label: RCA
  • Release Date: Sep 23, 2008

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. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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]
  5. 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.
  6. 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.
  7. Only by The Night will undoubtedly sell bucketloads but there's no escaping the fact that creatively, Kings Of Leon have stalled.
  8. 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.
  9. Filter
    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]
  10. 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.
  11. 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.
  12. Mojo
    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]
  13. 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.
  14. 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.
  15. 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.
  16. 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.
  17. 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.
  18. 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.
  19. 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
  20. Q Magazine
    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]
  21. Only by the Night is long on astral, arena-ready largeness, with blippy keyboards, droney guitars and whoa-oh-oh backing vocals.
  22. 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.
  23. 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.
  24. As it is, it's a very fine record from a band who are seemingly growing in stature, confidence, and ability by the day.
  25. 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.
  26. Much of Only By the Night is unmistakably the work of a band making music with arenas in mind. Sometimes it's intriguing.
  27. 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.
  28. 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]
  29. Under The Radar
    Only By The Night has exposed itself as the weakest Kings Of Leon album. [Fall 2008, p.76]
  30. 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.
User Score

Generally favorable reviews- based on 198 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Positive: 58 out of 96
  2. Negative: 26 out of 96
  1. James
    Jul 20, 2009
    I was a fan of Kings of Leon until this album. It represents the opposite of everything they were built on.
  2. 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 actuallyI 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 »
  3. TomA
    Sep 25, 2009
    At best, its fairly average. 2007's Because Of Times was one of the best albums of the last decade, but this fell along way short of At best, its fairly average. 2007's Because Of Times was one of the best albums of the last decade, but this fell along way short of that benchmark. There are 1 or 2 decent moments, but most of the songs are wastefully transparent, the lyrics are horribly cliched and any trace of that quirky edge ,which made the band so likeable in earlier albums, has been washed away in a tide of indie-rock mediocrity. It seems that Kings of Leon have transcended from different but brilliant to uniform but sellable; pressure from their record company may not have helped, but the whole of this record seems to have slipped into the line of 'fashionable' music. A special mention, finally, for 'Use Somebody'. Quite simply, one of the worst songs ever written by any band with their level of talent. It really is awful - yet it has risen to new heights of adulation. And that, in a way, pretty much sums up this album. Full Review »