Smoke & Jackal, a collaboration between Kings of Leon bassist Jared Followill and Mona vocalist/guitarist Nick Brown, dials down the stadium-ready Southern rock of the duos' parent bands in favor of a more wistful and subdued brand of formulated nihilism. Cool yet desperate to impress, EP No. 1 sounds like wet and empty city streets as witnessed by the chain-smoking, post-last call denizens that populate their sidewalks. Followill's lucid basslines steer tracks like “Fall Around,” “Not Tell,” and the smoky "Roadside," the latter of which wouldn’t have sounded out of place on Cliff Martinez's hypnotic score for 2011’s Drive, into alleyways and detritus-strewn dead ends, while Brown wails like Brandon Flowers on a meth binge. It’s got style to spare, and Followill and Brown complement each other without ever feeling combative, but midnight, urban blight alt-rock, while always in style, needs the substance and presence of a Mark Lanegan or a Greg Dulli to land a truly substantial haymaker, and while Smoke & Jackal definitely have the clothes, it’s hard to say as of yet whether they have the mugs to pull them off.
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AllMusic Review by James Christopher Monger