Album Review: Kings of Leon “When You See Yourself”

Kings of Leon: When You See Yourself Rerview
Graphics by Maeve Huttner

By Nora Onanian, Staff Writer

Artist: Kings of Leon

Album: When You See Yourself

Favorites: "Fairytale," "The Bandit," "Echoing," 

For fans of:  The Killers, The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Foo Fighters

After almost five years since their last album, Kings of Leon are back with When You See Yourself. The band's eighth album showcases just how much lead vocalist Caleb Followill, his brothers Nathan and Jared, and cousin Matthew have grown as people and artists. 



The album begins with the almost-title track "When You See Yourself, Are You Far Away." In contrast to the rather playful drumming and guitar scattered throughout the song, the lyrics show emotional maturity. From Caleb Followill's substance abuse to tensions between one another, Kings of Leon has gone through struggles. However, the group shows that they've learned a thing or two. Followill sings, "The pleasures of this life, I'm told, will spit you out in the middle of the road."

Lead single "The Bandit" has high-energy right off the bat. The song is filled with fun guitar riffs, strong vocals, and catchy lyrics. Followill sings of a group that "must catch the bandit," taking the listener through the tense journey of the chase. "Echoing" is another energetic and electric song off of the album. With strong drumming and guitar, these songs have a similar feel and sound to the band's past albums. Tracks like "Claire & Eddie," "A Wave," and "Fairytale," however, show a different side of the group. Followill takes on a much calmer tone than many of his past performances. And in terms of instrumentation, the band experiments with acoustic guitar and even piano in these tracks.



The "Sex on Fire" singers are back with more romance-filled songs in When You See Yourself. However, this album sees love through a matured and introspective lens. "Claire & Eddie" is an acoustic song that paints vivid imagery of a Colorado landscape and a love story "so old, it's still so original," as Followill sings. Tracks like "Fairytale" and "Golden Restless Age" also touch on the concepts of love and aging. 



When You See Yourself ends with "Fairytale," a track unlike any other in the band's discography. Piano, bass, acoustic guitar, and violin work together to produce a hauntingly beautiful sound. "Fairytale" is much slower than energetic songs like "Echoing," but just as interesting. The lyrics are deeply reflective and bittersweet. Followill sings, "I'll love you till' the day is gone." He stretches out the last verse and final lyrics before the echoing ethereal soundscape carries the song to a close. "Fairytale" is a powerful end to When You See Yourself, an album that showcases just how much Kings of Leon has grown since their early hits.



Also worth noting, When You See Yourself makes history as the first album released as a non-fungible token (NFT). NFTs are a form of cryptocurrency that allows users to buy all manner of digital art. Also, they give artists more power over their work. As many musicians face battles over the ownership of their work, Kings of Leon may be setting a new precedent. It's just another example of how the band has fought to stay true to themselves and their craft.

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