Thursday, March 11, 2010

Review: Cold War Kids, Behave Yourself EP

Cold War Kids
Behave Yourself EP
B+
Cold War Kids have a unique thing going on, despite maybe carrying an aesthetic similar to countless other contemporary alternative-rock/indie bands. They’ve got piano, guitar, bass, drums, and a charismatic vocalist to tie things up neatly, making them sit somewhere between Spoon and The Walkmen. But it seems more difficult than not to brush them off as just another alternative band, because they’ve got something going for them that most bands strive for constantly: coolness. (Continued after the jump...)
This band doesn’t master this feat by dressing up in gimmicky outfits and jumping around in a contrived manner across the stage. The Cold War Kids’ coolness is much more fluid. It seems to flow between the measures and the beats of every memorable riff and every piercingly volatile vocal line; if you’ve listened to “Hang Me Up To Dry” off of their full length Robbers & Cowards, you’re aware of this fluidity. Their second full length, Loyalty to Loyalty, sent them towards a club rock atmosphere which only upped their cool appeal with songs like “Something is Not Right With Me”, and “Every Man I Fall For”. With their latest release, an EP titled Behave Yourself, they’ve continued along the expected path towards a more relaxed sound, but they’ve managed to carry their unique demeanor along with them.

Gone are the band’s early tunes that you’d find yourself shouting along to late on a weekend’s night, replaced instead by songs more to the likeness of the balladry that they’ve also perfected. Opening track “Audience of One” may have a vocal line that sounds a little genderless at first, but this only demonstrates the extraordinary range of lead singer Nathan Willett. The simple pounding piano and the intermittent guitar strums mesh well over a consistent drum track as Willett hums and and howls and bellows softly into the microphone.

“Coffee Spoon” demonstrates well a mixture between the upbeat and the laid back, and highlight track “Santa Ana Winds” shows just as well as any track in the band’s catalogue that they have a cohesion and attention to subtlety that is hard to come by nowadays. The last of the four tracks, “Sermons”, starts out gospel chant style, eventually cascading through a waterfall of simple layers into four minutes of repetition that somehow fails to grow stale. And if that isn’t reason enough to check out this short EP, they’ve thrown in a 40 second track titled “Baby Boy” that rings like a smooth white boy dittely-do over a jazzy something or other that is not to be missed. All in all, this may not be the best material in the band’s catalogue, but it’s sure to get fans hyped on whatever full length they have in store for us next.

-- James McGrory
Host, "The Shape of Punk to Come," Mondays from 3-4pm on WGTB

3 comments:

igs said...

i refuse to believe that Jim isn't being facetious.

Ben said...

stopped reading after "Cold War Kids have a unique thing going on"

James said...

How is the Cold War Kids' sound not unique? I