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    Kings of Leon, ‘Mechanical Bull’

    With the self-deprecating suggestion in this comeback album’s title, this last-of-the-arena-rock-bands is perhaps admitting that its momentary reign as the US version of U2 is indeed over. Not that this Tennessee family foursome has entirely deflated its bombast, but after an on-stage crackup, major tour cancellation, and three-year hiatus, the three brothers and a cousin reconnect the dots of their career and interrelationships in an impressively catchy set of 11 songs. For one thing, they rely as much on the band’s secret weapon — its rhythm section — as on Caleb Followill’s drawling bellow, allowing a quick, sexy groove to build and shift from the Strokes-like rhythm guitar of the disc-opening lead single, “Supersoaker,” to the steamy Southern boogie of track seven, “Family Tree.” For another, Followill downplays his egotism without dampening his libido, finally breaking the back of his mechanical lyrical bull on everything from the bad-boy come-on “Rock City” to the troubled relationship ballad “Beautiful War.” The last few numbers up the bombast, but by then, they’ve earned the right to parade some pomp. (Out Tuesday)

    Franklin Soults

    ESSENTIAL “Rock City”


    Franklin Soults can be reached at