CD review of Cold War Kids |

CD review of Cold War Kids

Margaret Hair

— Cold War Kids

“Loyalty to Loyalty”

Is it fair to say a band was better before its “musical evolution”? For Cold Wars Kids, let’s hope it is.

With “Loyalty to Loyalty” – the Southern California quartet’s follow-up to 2006’s “robbers & cowards” – Cold War Kids go head-on into sludgy blues, leaving behind all the subtlety that made that first record memorable.

Maybe it was a jumping off point, but “robbers” had a slightly disaffected, throwback pop rock sound that made sense to a lot of Cold War Kids listeners, and probably made a lot of sense to the people playing it. It’s hard to tell if the same is true on “Loyalty to Loyalty.”

Stripped-down by comparison, the tracks on “Loyalty” maintain Cold War Kids’ ability to let lyrics stand out against arrangement – it’s just that when the arrangements drag the way they do on album opener “Against Privacy,” that can be a bad thing.

In some spots, the Kids take a step back from their new blues-centric sound, dipping into the jingling lines that made “robbers & cowards” so likeable. “Every Valley Is Not a Lake” works like that; so do parts of “Welcome to the Occupation,” in a less direct and considerably more disturbed way. “Golden Gate Jumpers” doesn’t fit that mold at all, but it is the best song on the album with its weird cabaret piano lines.

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“Loyalty to Loyalty” introduces a different Cold War Kids than the band’s actual debut. The same core ideas are there, but when a record feels long at 45 minutes, those ideas don’t get much of a chance to come through.

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