The Next Big Thing: Smoke & Jackal

I had no real intention to make ‘The Next Big Thing’ into a weekly feature on my blog, but it just so happens that seven days after posting about Jake Downs’ Seize the Water, I’ve discovered another new song worthy of a blog post.

No Tell was recommended to me by one of my readers over at A to Z Albums. It’s the debut single by new rock supergroup Smoke & Jackal, composed of Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill and Mona singer and guitarist Nick Brown.

As those of you who read A to Z Albums will know, I have a bit of a love-hate relationship with Kings of Leon and Caleb’s occasional screeches. No Tell, however, seems to take the aspects of Kings of Leon that I love and merges them with Nick Brown’s vocals, which are much softer than Caleb’s. The combination works well.

The very beginning of No Tell sounds slightly U2-esque, which certainly won’t be to everybody’s tastes. However, as soon as the bass kicks in, it is reminiscent of early Kings of Leon and the ghosts of U2 slip away. As for the lyrics, they have been a point of attack for some critics. Whilst they aren’t the most subtle or most finely crafted lyrics ever written (and should probably come with a PG rating), they don’t detract from the catchiness of this debut in the slightest. They certainly don’t deserve the comments made in a recent NME review, which seems to be working from a complete misunderstanding of the lyrics. There is absolutely no suggestion that the father of the girl in the song is actually present, nor that this is an attempt by Jared to ‘show off his fruity sex life’.

No Tell isn’t a ground-breaking debut, and I wouldn’t suggest that either Jared or Nick give up the day job quite yet. However, as far as supergroup side-projects go, it isn’t half bad. It particularly appeals to me as an opportunity to escape from Caleb’s vocals, which at times grate, whilst still providing that unmistakable Kings of Leon sound. Smoke & Jackal wanted this collaboration to be about simply ‘having fun’ and the results are fitting. No Tell isn’t going to win mountains of awards or draw in stadium-sized crowds, but it’s a fun, catchy debut that shows a lot of potential.

Smoke & Jackal’s debut EP, EP1, is available tomorrow (16th October).

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