It seems so long ago—two years? Really?—since Robbers and Cowards
propelled the Cold War Kids (CWK) onto that sparkling stage of national adoration. The album’s jarring beats and the painful, unmistakable yowls of front man Nathan Willett gave this Orange County band something more than just fans—it gave them individuality. The artistic, impulsive musical structures weren’t terribly radio-friendly, but even the haters had to admit that “Hang Me Out to Dry” was a pretty damn good song.
So the Kids have just put out their sophomore album, Loyalty to Loyalty. If you weren’t a fan of CWK before, this one probably won’t seduce you, but to the feverish fans who revere the band’s unexpected sonic forays and their often-bleak lyrics, this is a mostly glorious sequel, for which reviews like this one are a moot point.
The opener, “Against Privacy,” is a downtempo jab at the intrusive, watchful eyes of the government. The first (perhaps only?) single, “Something Is Not Right With Me,” is a thumping, howling tour through despair and disaster. “Golden Gate Jumpers” waxes on suicide through beautifully twinkling guitar/piano duels. The slow and disconsolate “Avalanche in B” recounts a personal crisis of some sort (pick one; you’re probably right). “Every Man I Fall For” is about domestic violence as witnessed through the eyes of a battered woman—easily the most haunting, enchanting song here.
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But just when it seems Loyalty to Loyalty ought to be branded as music to stick your head in an oven to, CWK flip it around with “Dreams Old Men Dream,” another tale of the broken and downtrodden, but with a sense of hope through a protagonist who declares he hasn’t given up chasing his childhood aspirations, no matter how wrinkly he gets. “On the Night My Love Broke Through” name-drops Bukowski while chronicling the beginning of a new chapter in life. So if you still have money left after this week—if the stock market hasn’t completely imploded, and if Social Security hasn’t been sucked dry to bail out a handful of gluttonous mortgage lenders—Loyalty to Loyalty may be one of the smartest, most rewarding investments this year.
For more info, go to www.coldwarkids.com.
Attention, Orange County/Long Beach musicians and bands! Mail your music, along with your vital contact info and decent high-resolution photos (plus any impending performance dates) for possible review to: Locals Only, OC Weekly, 1666 N. Main St., Ste. 500, Santa Ana, CA 92701. Or just be lazy and e-mail your MySpace link to email@example.com.