Like my review for Fang Island's self-titled debut earlier in the year, I'm going to preface this by saying that this is going to be a pretty quick review. Unlike that review, it's going to be short because at least 80% of Beat the Devil's Tattoo is the same Goddamn song.
Go listen to the title track. It's the first one on the album, it's pretty short, and it's pretty cool. You may now feel free to ignore the rest of this album forever, because everything else on it is a worse version of that song. For a Kings of Leon album, concentrated doses of mediocrity is nothing to damage the spirit, but this fucker is 65 minutes long, and maybe-MAYBE-10 of those minutes are worth caring about. Rarely does one run across an album where the vast majority of the material is filler, but Beat the Devil's Tattoo goes above and beyond in supplying the listener with reasons not to care about it.
Is it at least fun? A little bit, in small doses, but you'll have to stop yourself from nodding off 15 minutes in even if you're listening to it on shuffle. And keep in mind, I've only talked about the songs that are inoffensive but dull. I haven't even brought up the two embarrassing folk-rock experiments that crop up, or the absolutely abhorrent closer "Half-State", a ten minute, shambling dullard of a song with no buildup, tension, emotion or drive whatsoever.
Beat the Devil's Tattoo is the album Jack White would make if he cracked his head on the sharp corner of a table. No risks are taken, no power-trio dynamic isn't abused and stultified, and every song runs about three minutes longer than it needs to. It is, in short, a dud, and the only reason you'll remember it at all is the pins-and-needles sensation of your ass falling asleep.
Too short? Blame Black Rebel Motorcycle Club. They didn't exactly give me a lot to work with.