Cold War Kids – [Album]

Monday, 22 April 2013

If one really looks at the Cold War Kids' history of releases, it's possible to see that a massive screw-up of an album was inevitable, the way the band was working. When the band started in 2006, they made an impressive mark with Robbers & Cowards, and had indie rock fans excited for good reason; the songs were solid and instantly memorable, and the performances were equally so. Emboldened, the band then began a tradition of regularly renovating their sound and seeing how far they could push both themselves and their audience with Loyalty To Loyalty and Mine Is Yours. They were rewarded with a fanbase which grew with each successive release, and Cold War Kids must have begun to like the idea of not having any boundaries or limits, because they hadn't found one yet.

What Cold War Kids were doing for the first six years of their career was exciting, but someone should have warned them that, eventually, they'd find a limit to how far their fans would be comfortable with letting them go. Usually, when a band finds that wall, they have the presence of mind to push off it and regroup but, with Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, Cold Wall Kids don't just find the wall, the band cracks a few teeth as they barrel into it face first.

Listeners will be flat-out shocked as “Miracle Mile” bounds out to open Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, flaunting and “Eighties Pop” vibe which relies heavily on a dense arrangement and stifling production style. Singer Nathan Willett honks and squeals mock operatic while a barrage of keyboards pounds out an unending volley of eighth note rhythms to try and push the song along. In some ways for some listeners this might be an exciting development – but it won't be for everyone. To be fair, the glossy, densely packed and poppy permutation of Cold War Kids' sound that Lonelyhearts tries to flesh out in this beginning seems destined to really appeal to at least some teens and tweens, but it will feel lacking for any ears over the age of majority. It sounds too slick and meticulous and feels like it was played to a metronome; it's stiff and mechanical.

The “stiff and mechanical” vibe which hangs over “Miracle Mile” dogs each of the other nine songs on Dear Miss Lonelyhearts too, by varying degrees. At best, the band manages to sound like a poor man's Rough Trade but, at worst (as is the case on “Tuxedos,” “Bottled Affection” and “Bitter Poem”), the Cold War Kids seem only too happy to relinquish every vestige of a unique personality about them and let computers – pre-programed synthesizers, click tracks and maybe just a little (gasp!) pitch correction – compensate for what sounds like half-finished compositions. Unfortunately, those machinations actually accentuate the problems from which this album suffers rather than alleviating them.

So what is there left to say about Dear Miss Lonelyhearts? Not much really, it is Cold War Kids' first intrinsically flawed record. Given that the band has a long-established tradition of remodeling its sound with each new album they release though, fans can hope the band won't be long in following this flop up with something completely different.



Cold War Kids – "Aeon (Antony & The Johnsons cover)" – [mp3]

Cold War Kids – "Condemnation (Depeche Mode cover) – [mp3]


Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
is out now. Buy it here on Amazon .

Comments are closed.