Wednesday, September 24, 2008

Review: Cold War Kids - Loyalty To Loyalty (* * * 1/2)

When Cold War Kids stormed onto the scene a couple years ago, they brought all that comes with an extreme amount of blogger buzz. Some praised the Kids for their jangly, bluesy retro-rock sound, others dismissed them as nothing more than overhyped copycats. This time around, the band seek to avoid the sophomore slump and qualify themselves as a legitimate indie rock act.

Loyalty To Loyalty, released on Tuesday, shows a softer, more experimental, and more thoughtful side of Cold War Kids. Where they previously loaded the album with plenty of noise and bombast, the band now uses dynamics with more caution and, frequently, greater effectiveness. The slow-burning opener "Against Piracy" meanders through some hazy guitar lines before building into an instrumental climax, leading into the catchier, brighter "Mexican Dogs" and "Every Valley Is Not A Lake," the latter of which includes a piano line reminiscent of Carol King's "I Feel The Earth Move." Some highlights include the first single "Something Is Not Right With Me" and "I've Seen Enough."

The lyrics on Loyalty To Loyalty are strong throughout, and often exceptional. The storytelling on "Dreams Old Men Dream" and "Every Man I Fall For" is vivid and gripping, while lines like "I tried to call you collect/You said you would not accept/your friends are laughin' 'cause nobody uses payphones" almost force a sing-along the second time through. What ultimately keeps the album from achieving lift-off are too many sluggish tunes, especially near the end of the record. The last few tracks are extremely dense and offer little in the way of hooks, and the album is disrupted halfway through by the downright obnoxious "Avalanche In B." It's almost as if Loyalty To Loyalty wasn't made to be listened to all at once. Actually, I would submit that the album would have been stronger at just a trim ten songs.

The effort is easy to appreciate, the talent aparent, and you have to admire Cold War Kids for refusing to take the easy way out, but sometimes I found myself wishing they wouldn't try so hard. Loyalty To Loyalty has too many great moments to dismiss it, but too few to reach its lofty goals.

Favorite Tracks: "Dreams Old Men Dream," "Something Is Not Right With Me," "I've Seen Enough"


The Captain said...

Awesome Review! I know I've said it before, but I would kill for your writing talent.