Review Summary: Full of soul and power, the Cold War Kids deliver a record that has a fresh and unique sound. Powerful vocals, funky rhythms and blues power fuel Robbers and Cowards, their debut LP.
It’s hard to accurately gauge what specific genre the Cold War Kids
belong to. People insist that they are indie, yet others claim they move in the direction of harder rock. One man even claimed at a concert that they were “old people’s music”. (True story, some old guy came up to my friends and I and said “I’m glad to see young people are enjoying old people’s music.”) But, I digress. The point is, the Cold War Kids
are probably one of the more individual acts in the indie scene at this moment. Fusing blues, rock and roll, and soul, the Kids engineered one of the more unique albums of 2006 with Robbers & Cowards
, their debut LP.
The Kids are…
– vocals, piano, guitars
Jonathon Bo Russell
– vocals, piano, guitars
– drums, percussion
(They also hail from my native land, Long Beach, California. Represent.)
One of the most things that most definitely stand out in this record is the Kid’s groove. Aveiro is an extremely funky drummer, and it shows a great majority of the songs. The first two tracks We Used to Vacation
and Hang Me Up To Dry
are head-bobbing, foot-tapping soul filled blues songs. It’s hard to deny the fact that these songs are easily danceable and great to listen to. Saint John
is another example of these songs that are very rhythm heavy. Maust and Aveiro coordinate very well to the point is easily likened to a wall, reinforcing the structure of every song on the album.
While the rhythm section of this band excels exceedingly, we also cannot forget the yin to that yang. Willett’s vocals are soulful, mourning and moving. Ranging from moving (Sermons V The Gospel
, the hidden track of the album) to intimate Robbers
to powerful (the climax of Passing the Hat
), he pulls out all the stops and displays his impressive repertoire.
The pianos and guitars also add another layer to the music. At times, it can be very minimalist, but it works for the song. Hang Me Up To Dry
for example, is 4 repeated notes and a solo, and it still is a crowd favorite. Their styling also fringes onto the point of primitive, with Willett going out of key in said song, and Russell even strumming a chord without fretting a single note. At first listen, these parts seem out of place and confusing, but after re-listens it becomes part of the song and it would sound unusual without it.
The lyrics here are of high quality and thought provoking. Robbers
is a visual set in the life of “street thugs” and offers glimpses of underlying themes and morals. Sermons V The Gospel
is another thought provoking song which almost channels the spirit of Bob Dylan, and the protest songs of the 1960’s with it’s words.
Originally Posted by Robbers
And all this life, we’ve glorified
Robbing from the blind is not easy, you see
Don’t think I don’t know sympathy
My victims in my shadow
Staring back at me…
Originally Posted by Sermons V The Gospel
Got this idea in my head and I can't get it out
Cause all your money and all your culture
I can surely live without
A pile of treasures up on earth
What you keep and what you take
A property, vanity, and even knowledge for knowledge sake
and I said..
Lord, have mercy on me.
While the beginning of this album is fantastic, the end is where it begins to get lax. Pregnant
is a song that just doesn’t seem to work with the rest of the album and ultimately brings it down as a whole. It’s rather boring and not as full of energy as the past songs were. Also, at this point in the album, the Kids sound like they are rehashing some of their material and it becomes a bit repetitive, which may or may not turn off certain people to the album. While the instruments are used in creative ways, there’s not that much technique involved in playing the songs, which can be disappointing to people as well.
Overall, this album is an extremely solid choice for people looking for a good more recent band. I recommend it to everyone who has an interest in indie music and rock and roll.
RATING: 4 out of 5
Clever and visual lyrics
Funky and a fun listen
Can get a bit stale
Not very complex