Bought by John for Rhys
The Cold War Kids are one of those bands that should have made it massive. The hype machine was in full swing long before Robbers and Cowards hit the shelves and the obligatory Jools Holland appearance went down a storm with critics at the time (check out Hang Me Out To Dry).
When Robbers and Cowards arrived, I thought it was absolutely amazing. We Used To Vacation, Hang Me Out To Dry and Tell Me In The Morning are as good an opening hat trick of tracks as you could possible want to hear. They really are all stone cold classics. Tell Me In The Morning in particular is a blueprint for indie rock and many lesser bands have built entire careers on much weaker tracks. Saint John matches the brilliance by coupling Nick Cave like lyrics with Jack White like melodies. Sublime stuff.
The rest of the album, although not matching the dizzy heights of these four tracks, nevertheless was good enough to get me along to their anarchistic gigs and I honestly thought the Cold War Kids would make it huge. It never quite happened…. Their second album was a huge disappointment, their third a poor version of Sex on Fire era Kings of Leon and their latest it just plain dogshit.
For one brief moment though, I thought the Cold War Kids were the best band in the world. I don’t expect Rhys to go that far…. but surely he will be seduced by the charms of this frankly amazing album.
There was something about the Cold War Kids that didn’t appeal to me when it came through the door. I don’t know if it was the depressing band name or the miserable looking cover or something else but I really wasn’t looking forward to hearing it. I wasn’t overly impressed when I finally did listen to it either and I dare say I probably wouldn’t have listened to it a second time had I bought it for myself. However, I knew I had to listen to it again so I did and it wasn’t as bad as I first thought but I was still unconvinced. Having put off reviewing it for so long I figured I’d better revisit it a few weeks later but this time I couldn’t stop listening to it; it must have been the only thing I listened to for a week solid.
"Enough jibba jabba and get to the point, What do the Cold War Kids sound like?" I hear you ask. Well, they are an American indie rock band whose sound lies somewhere between The White Stripes and The Strokes with a bit of Ben Folds thrown in for good measure.
At times the lead vocals sound like a poor man’s Jeff Buckley which is annoying as they really don’t need to do go there. One of my favourite tracks is God, Make Up Your Mind but it’s also one of the ones worst affected by this and find myself wondering how much better it would have sounded had it been sung more like another of my favourites Rubidoux.
On this album I generally prefer the more subtle songs like Pregnant and the aforementioned God, Make Up Your Mind to the more bluesy sounding tracks like Saint John or the more straight forward indie-rock of Hang Me Up To Dry and Tell Me In The Morning.
Not an album I would have discovered by myself but I am very pleased to have been introduced to it.
I’ve grown fond of quite a few of these tracks with Rubidoux and Pregnant (any song that starts with whistling gets bonus points off me) both getting a fair share of single track plays but for me the piano based opener We Used To Vacation is an absolutely fantastic track with amazing lyrics about addiction.