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Track Review

Sometimes you just have to start with what seems clear.

Take Kings of Leon's latest hit, "Waste a Moment," for instance. The first new material from the clan Followill (brothers Caleb, Jared and Nathan, plus cousin Matthew) since 2013 is an exercise in minimalism and inscrutability—both the song and the surreal video that accompanies it.

Which is why I'm going to begin with what's obvious and work out into this song's artistic murkiness from there.

The Art of Wasting Time?

"Waste a Moment" focuses on two characters, a man and woman, who both seem to have some issues. I'll get to them in a moment.

But first, let's look at the song's titular chorus, which manages to sandwich both its most intriguing idea and its most problematic one into just two lines. "Oh, take some time to waste a moment," frontman Caleb Followill instructs, before adding, "Oh, never ask to be forgiven."

I'm kind of struck by that first paradoxical instruction: "Take some time to waste a moment." Perhaps that's so intriguing to me because we live in a time where there's often so much to do, with so many pressing concerns demanding our attention at any given moment. Faced with that problem, it can feel as if the worst thing we can do is waste time. After all, if we waste time, how are we going to get it all done, right?

But sometimes what we perhaps counterintuitively need the most amid such pressure is permission to pause, to take a moment to cease being productive and just be. It's those moments that help us remember what's important in life.

Honestly, I have no idea if that's what these guys intend with that provocative lyric. But when I hear the line, "Take some time to waste a moment," it actually seems like a pretty sane suggestion, especially when it's later paired with the hint that what we really should pay attention to is our own brokenness: "Oh, take the time to waste a moment/Oh, face it where the lines are broken/Oh, name a price to all that's living."

A 'Burner' and her Boyfriend

But then there's that other line in the chorus: "Never ask to be forgiven." That's a provocative line too—but not in a good way.

Looking at the balance of the song, we get some hints why that line might be in the chorus. The song's two brief verses paint spare portraits of two wild characters, the kind who might not be apt to ask for forgiveness.

The first is a woman: "She's a little burner, burner, gonna throw you to the flame/Little ticking time bomb, time bomb, gonna blow us all away." Elsewhere in the first verse, we hear that she's from Waco and that she's a bartender. And … that's about it.

As for character number two, well, he doesn't seem any more stable than she is. "Sexy was her boyfriend, with no kin, always running from the law," Followill narrates. "Every other weekend, the week ends with his back at her claw." Then this addendum: "He's a live wire, wired, shooting sparks in the night/He's a gun for hire, hired with a bead in his sights."

Bombs. Explosions. Sparks. Guns. Anyone else sort of drifting toward Bonnie and Clyde here?

Like I said, these don't sound like the kind of folks who are apt to ask anyone for forgiveness. And, frankly, I'm pretty skeptical about them wasting their moments in redemptive, restorative ways (as I talked about above).

So never mind how much I'm kind of drawn to that one line in the chorus. I'm reasonably certain things aren't going to end well for this volatile pair.

And Then the Police Passed Out

The video doesn't have much, if anything, to do with these lyrics or themes. Instead, it's got sort of a kitschy, old-school, sci-fi, Invasion of the Body Snatchers kind of feel to it.

Here's a thumbnail summary (sort of): There are three cheerleaders with mysterious expressions whose mere glance apparently causes two police officers to collapse. There's an older, ominous man confronting a younger one with some sort of device that causes the whole house to light up. Later, more police turn up to investigate the house, even as those suspicious, sensual cheerleaders loiter leeringly. (One apparently passes out and, oddly, has a small toy car come shooting out of her short skirt.) Eventually, band members show up, alternately playing their instruments with blindfolds on and holding eyeballs in their hands. Then they're kidnapped, there's a car accident, some looting, and perhaps a UFO comes at the end to beam up one of the cheerleaders. Maybe.

And then there's that Octopus amulet. Which catches on fire.

So what's going on here? Whatever it is, it's even less clear than the momentarily insightful, mostly murky song that spawned the video's strange story.

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