If you’re only used to hearing Kings of Leon through “Sex on Fire” and “Use Somebody” Caleb Followill’s voice thoughout Aha Shake Heartbreak must come as a shock. The sweet, tender, soulful voice is nowhere to be found. Instead he sounds like a drunken Murmur-era Michael Stipe whose southern accent is even more pronounced. The lyrics are purposely slurred, and inaudible.
“The Bucket” is the highlight of an album full of stand-out tracks. It begins with Matthew Followill’s guitar riff that lies somewhere between lazy and commanding. The hangover has ended, and the party is just beginning. Someone shouts “wooo!” and the song turns into a shuffle once Nathan Followill rolls his drums in.
Before Kings of Leon got big I used to describe them to people as “the stooges drinking whiskey” or the “Allman Brothers on heroin”. “The Bucket” isn’t country-punk, but it’s certainly country influenced and played by a garage-rock band. Interestingly, “The Bucket” has fast verses, and slow choruses – the exact opposite of most Nirvana songs.
The song is apparently written by Caleb Followill to his younger brother Jared (KOL’s bass player) who was just 17 at the time of the recording to help him deal with the band’s newfound fame (they were huge in Britain for years before hitting in the US.) “You kick the bucket, and I’ll swing my legs” seems to imply a brotherly relationship – we’re in this together. By the end of the song, Caleb’s “gonna show the way,” and you know that he means it.
Like much of Aha Shake Heartbreak I became obsessed with “The Bucket” because even 5 years later, it sounds like nothing else.