The Cold War Kids’ first album, “Robbers and Cowards,” was a brilliant record that built on the indie sound being made popular by bands like Walkmen, Arcade Fire, and the like, by adding pop music rhythms to the outsider echoes that traditionally dominate this genre. As a result, the band got more MTV airplay than just about any indie band. Their second full length, “Loyalty to Loyalty,” is a little less accessible. But when it hits right, it serves as a worthy continuation of the band’s catalog.
On the album’s opening track, the band lives up to its political name. “We don’t gamble/we don’t do the stock exchange/we paint paintings/we write scenes for the stage/we will talk about welfare, we will talk about sex/talk about the pope and Prada shoes/no one gets upset . . . We’re against privacy. We’re against privacy.” The meaning isn’t immediately clear, but the sense of paranoia in Nathan Willett’s voice, and the haunting Radiohead-meets-Grateful-Dead guitar work feels vaguely political, and revolutionary. More experimental songs, like the ol’ timey, Dixie-sounding “Golden Gate Jumpers” aren’t immediately accessible. The vocals don’t sync up, the piano is meandering, and the drumming sounds random. But on multiple listenings, the sounds all come together in a fascinating conversation with a woman who is contemplating suicide. Over time, it has become one of my favorite cuts.
Loyalty to Loyalty is a rewarding album, but not one that’s easy to digest casually. It’s more of a thinking person’s record. The hooks come easy on songs like “I’ve Seen Enough,” but the listener has to work harder to appreciate songs like “Every Man I Fall For.” But spend the time to do so, and I think you’ll find one of the best records of 2008.
To sample the material on the new record, I’ve got a treat for y’all! It’s a live show from November of this year in Birmingham, England. Check out a few tastes, and the zip.
Every Valley Is Not A Lake
We Use To Vacation
Something Is Not Right with Me
Every Man I Fall For
I’ve Seen Enough
Hang Me Up To Dry
Dreams Old Men Dreams
Welcome To The Occupation