Wednesday, August 08, 2007

Robbers and Cowards by Cold War Kids

It's a constant problem for indie bands to somehow distinguish themselves from all the other indie bands clamouring for the attention of what is, let's face it, a fairly limited audience of converse wearing, stovepipe-jean sporting indie fans. And the Cold War Kids do a pretty good job of it, cobbling together a respectable pastiche of nouveau blues, knocking off little pieces of everyone from The White Stripes' blues rawk to Spoon-ish sparse pop, with singer Nathan Willet jumping around from a gruff David Byrne yelp to a quasi-Jeff Buckley croon, as the occasion demands.

Of course, like any indie group striving for kudos from that most difficult to please demographic, there is a significant amount of superfluous musical extravagance; time signatures shift around almost arbitrarily and references to obscure literary figures (a little Gabriel Garcia Marquez, anyone?) abound, but refreshingly, the subject matter is strangely conservative, opening track, 'We Used to Vacation' a cautionary tale of a despondent alcoholic whose life slowly collapses, resigns himself to optimism, 'Still, things could get much worse/This will all blw over in time'.

With the almost underwater clash-bang drumming well forward in the mix, the rhythmic drone of the record carries it along for much of it's running time, particularly when songs as strong as 'Hang Me Up to Dry', 'Tell Me in the Morning' and 'Robbers' bob up periodically. It does all get a bit much towards the end, but for a solid half hour, Cold War Kids keep things fresh and interesting enough to suggest that they can, indeed, stand above the masses, at least for a little while.

3 1/2 stars


At 11:55 AM, Anonymous Abby said...

Great work.


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