Cold War Kids: Loyalty to Loyalty

Music Reviews Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids: Loyalty to Loyalty

We’re still loyal

Music blogs are like bad boyfriends. They take a heretofore unknown band, make them feel special with much frothing keyboard clickity-clack, turn them into rock stars, then suddenly lose their number when the next well-coiffed strumpet in skinny jeans strolls by. Clap Your Hands Say Yeah and Tapes ’n Tapes are probably still, right now, sitting in their living rooms decked out in mascara-smeared prom dresses waiting for Pitchfork to pick them up, wondering why their respective follow-up albums were greeted with such a resounding chorus of crickets.

Is it too much to hope that Cold War Kids—who were hot and heavy with the blogs in ’06—can buck the love-’em-and-leave-’em trend? Probably.

But that doesn’t mean Loyalty to Loyalty is a weak album. In fact, as a whole, it might be more interesting than Robbers & Cowards. All the things that made Cold War Kids’ debut so memorable—believable indie funk, bass solos, lo-fi production—are here, it’s just that they aren’t doled out in a one-hit dose of perfection like “Hang Me Up To Dry.”

But what Loyalty lacks in immediacy it tries to make up for with mood and newfound confidence. “Against Privacy” opens the record with a sparse, slow-rolling statement of intent that nonchalantly revs to white with the furious ping and reverb of jonathan Russell’s guitar. “Mexican Dogs” finds Nathan Willett in full command of his singular yelp, and by song four the staccato drumming, piano swirls and bass slap of “Something Is Not Right With Me” screams of a band that’s spent the last two years working itself into an onstage lather.?

It’s the album’s unofficial jumping-off point. From there, the Kids loosen the ties to their shallow back catalog. “Welcome To The Occupation” (not an R.E.M. cover) is built upon tribal drumming, “Golden Gate Jumpers” sounds like one of Tom Waits’ ragtime excursions, and while “On The Night My Love Broke Through” could be the title of an Interpol song, it ends in a gust of freak-out jazz. Best of all, though, are “Avalanche in B” and “Cryptomnesia,” where the Kids push their bare-bones abilities pretty damn close to epic proportions. It’s a better-than-solid album from a band that seems equipped to someday make a classic one.

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