Review Summary: The Cold War Kids start off 2010 with their best release yet
The Cold War Kids have always had a knack for crafting good songs, but as far as albums go they've always seemed a bit lost. Not in a sense of identity, but in knowing when to call it quits. Both their debut, Robbers and Cowards
, and their follow up, Loyalty to Loyalty
, have more than their share of brilliant moments, but when taken in as a whole they tend to tread the line between overlong and overbearing. That's why it is so refreshing to see that the newest release from the southern California quartet is an EP that clocks in at just under fifteen minutes.
Born from the same sessions as 2008's Loyalty to Loyalty
, but consisting of songs that “didn't belong but stuck around”, Behave Yourself
is a surprisingly cohesive mini-release. The overall sound on display should be instantly familiar to anyone who has picked up a Cold War Kids album in the past, as their brand of gospel influenced indie-punk has changed little in the course of their career, but rarely has it been this refined. The lead off track, “Audience of One”, is the Kid's most charming number since “Hospital Beds”, with vocalist Nathan Willett eschewing his normal verses of veiled politics in favor of the importance of connecting with his listeners. Even when they slow things down on the soothing Beatles-meets-Motown influenced “Sermons”, the sound is urgent, demanding all ears in listening distance to stand at attention.
Interestingly, the album's last track, a thirty-seven second mess of clashing piano and pounding snare given the name “Baby Boy”, is the most intriguing moment of Behave Yourself
. The jangly cacophony may come off as a throwaway to some, but here's hoping it is a hint of things to come for the Cold War Kids, as there is not much more that they can do within the confines of their chosen sound.