Cold War Kids
Robbers & Cowards
First Appeared in The Music Box, June 2007, Volume 14, #6
Written by Melissa Stroh
Sat June 30, 2007, 06:00 AM CDT
After a handful of successful EPs, an ever-increasing mob of admirers, and a climactic performance at last yearís Lollapalooza Festival, it was only a matter of time before Cold War Kids became the "it" band for every blogger and scene-kid around. One would assume with immense acclaim from fans and critics alike that Cold War Kids would falter under such pressure. After all, a debut album can make or break a band in seconds. Fortunately for Cold War Kids, the unique sound that it captured on early EPs like Up in Rags was only a taste of what it is capable of producing. The bandís debut Robbers & Cowards is an amalgam of the approach it employed on its previous efforts, one that features the passion and drive that a debut deserves. In a world of far-off images and disconnected lives, these four friends have tapped into something organically necessary.
Things work best when they can be explained and dissected on multiple levels. This holds true throughout Robbers & Cowards. From the cover art to the albumís name and from its subject matter to each note that is played, every element of the effort is mapped perfectly. All of these aspects fall into place to create one idea, one image. When other artists attempt this feat, it seems fake or contrived. It is different with Cold War Kids because of how well the band has leveraged the grassroots following that it established. The group is one of the few true bands remaining today.
Robbers & Cowards offers an exploration of the different paths that life can take. It begins with We Used to Vacation, a story about a recovering alcoholic with a hectic family life and an even busier social schedule. The opening lines ó "I kissed the kids at noon/Then stumbled out the room" ó describes the frantic happenings not only in the song but also for the entire album. Despite being bumped, jostled, and confused as the set moves from one track to the next, itís impossible to stop listening. Each note that lead singer Nathan Willet hauls from the pit of his stomach soulfully reverberates tenfold across the entirety of the affair.
As it progresses, Robbers & Cowards continues to scope out different lives. With ease and comfort, Cold War Kids takes on the tale of a death row inmate in Saint John as well as the story of a self-righteous thief on Passing the Hat. Each song on the album is lengthier and more memorable than the one that preceded it. Stories are plotted effortlessly, and they are delivered with an urgency that is rarely seen outside of protests. When everything is said and done, the members of Cold War Kids have given everything they have. These days, thatís all anyone wants. Ĺ
Of Further Interest...
Robbers & Cowards is available from Barnes & Noble.
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1 Star: Pitiful
2 Stars: Listenable
3 Stars: Respectable
4 Stars: Excellent
5 Stars: Can't Live Without It!!
Copyright © 2007 The Music Box