In 2006, when they toured with Death Cab for Cutie, we had never heard a guitar sound so raw and a voice sound so intense. Like kids on Christmas morning, we jumped at the opportunity to see them again on April 4th, 2013, 2 days after the release of their new album- to experience the powerful feeling all over again.
Now, having been awarded the opportunity to review this new album for ThisIsNotAScene, we were able to deconstruct the album song by song. Regrettably, we were more excited about the box than its contents. Instead of getting a shiny new bicycle, we got practical socks.
The first track, ‘Miracle Mile’, is a great single. It’s lively, and makes great use of piano as percussion. Nathan Willett’s megaphone tenor vocals are captivating. His voice always makes you feel as if you’re at their concert. Somehow, he manages to never sound recorded, but effortlessly authentic.
‘Lost That Easy’ creeps up on you, starting with an industrial chill and slowly warms you with the addition of drums, faint, raw guitar and engaging chorus. The mellow groove is characteristic of classic Cold War Kids.
The middle of the album seems forced. The music doesn’t match the intensity of the voice, depending on the track, the lyrics are weak, and the music sounds soulless. In ‘Tuxedos’, it seems as if they are trying to invoke John Lennon’s ‘We All Shine On’, but even with the addition of a choir and organ they still fall flat. ‘Water and Power’ seems to sum up the album- strong intro, sloppy middle and you lose interest quickly with each passing note.
They throw a dog a bone with ‘Jailbirds’. The beautiful piano and drums make way for the lovely chorus. This cautionary tale speaks of the delicacies of parenthood:
“Fathers make believe for your daughters,
Mothers take it easy on your sons,
It’s just a balance like a tightrope walker,
But for now you’ve got to keep them young.”
However, the conclusion of this album, including the title track, with the exception of the crescendo of the drums, was lackluster.
After all of this, even though the album was disappointing, they are still phenomenal live. It was worth trudging through the seemingly three hit album just to be able to go to their performance and fall in love, once again, with the Cold War Kids.