Cold War Kids, "Loyalty toLoyalty" ★★★ ½
The Cold War Kids are pretty awesome. Their first album, "Robbers and Cowards," was released in 2006 and it was a blast of fresh sound - urgent vocals coupled with bluesy and ragged guitars and a driving beat. The bass lines and use of piano particularly stood out.
It was just really good, compelling music with a sound all its own.
They were favorably compared to the White Stripes in many reviews, and I heard influences of Radiohead and similarities to great contemporaries such as Interpol and Muse. They scored a big hit with "Hang Me Out to Dry," and were at the top of a lot of "Best New Bands" lists last year.
Their sophomore release happily continues with more of the same, and shows growth into new areas of exploration. The first single "Something Is Not Right With Me," is similar to their first album - but the high-register vocals wear on me a little bit.
The rest of the album explores a more bluesy feeling, with the warmer vocals of "Golden Gate Jumpers," and "I've Seen Enough," and a really cool falsetto on "Relief" that reminds me of Prince in "Kiss."
Cold War Kids are so cool because they defy categorization. These California boys combine a roots sound like the White Stripes with an emo vocal like the Killers and a soaring emotional scale like Radiohead. Those are all lofty bands to be compared to, and Cold War Kids are up for that comparison.
It's good stuff. Get it.
Andy Kline is program director at KXLL-FM radio in Juneau and music critic for the Hooligan. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.