Pop culture may be the only place where even bad ideas are recycled. If a soft-drink executive proposed reintroducing New Coke, it would probably fall flat; no Ford employee would dare suggest the time is right to bring back the Edsel; and you don’t see politicians or historians lining up to reassess Millard Fillmore or the economic policies of the Hoover administration. But the people responsible for “The Real Gilligan’s Island” continue to collect their paychecks; somewhere, someone is pitching a movie adaptation of “Hazel”; and the Kings of Leon sell out two nights at the Roxy reviving ’70s Southern boogie.
A bar band of no special competence, the family act (three brothers and a cousin) adds no insight, verve or originality to a style that was not held in much critical or commercial regard the first time around.
More energetic onstage than their sophomore release “Aha Shake Heartbreak” (RCA) would lead you to expect (that’s not too impressive a feat — the album is so listless it sounds like the first record made on Quaaludes in some 30 years), their hourlong set had all the interest and appeal of a rusty clunker on cinderblocks.
There’s rarely a moment that couldn’t be heard from the second-place finisher in a high school battle of the bands. Lead guitarist Matthew Followill adds some interest with his manic solos, but for the most part, Kings of Leon sound like a hard slog though a fetid swamp.
Against this background, a song such as “The Bucket” stands out, if only because instead of Molly Hatchet, it sounds like Pure Prairie League. Does anyone really think that’s a good idea?
Kings of Leon play two shows in New York, Feb. 22 at Irving Plaza and Feb. 23 at Webster Hall, and open all the American dates of U2’s Vertigo tour, which is booked into the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim April 1, Staples Center April 5 and New York’s Madison Square Garden May 21.