Nearly two years after their explosive debut, "Youth and Young Manhood," the brothers (and cousin) Followill emerge with a more focused effort that never sacrifices the band's manic intensity.

Nearly two years after their explosive debut, "Youth and Young Manhood," the brothers (and cousin) Followill emerge with a more focused effort that never sacrifices the band's manic intensity. That's immediately apparent as frontman Caleb howls "Eeeeighteen, baaaawlding star" on leadoff single "Bucket." It's clear Kings of Leon have been living the rock life, as the album's 12 cuts (which rarely hit three minutes) cover wild sex ("Soft"), overindulgence ("Rememo") and violence ("Four Kicks"). Nathan on drums and Jared on bass showcase a much-improved rhythm section, and guitarist Matthew reins in his wilder tendencies for a more disciplined attack. The same can be said for Caleb, who doesn't swing for the fence as often as on "Manhood" but remains one of rock's most exciting new vocalists. With an opening slot on the U2 tour, expect these Kings to rule.—RW