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CD Review: Cold War Kids / Mine Is Yours

February 15, 2011 by  
Filed under CD Reviews, Daily Music News

Cold War Kids
Mine Is Yours
Interscope Records

Rating: ★★★★☆ 

Reviewed by: Sally Feller

My ears perked up the first time I heard “Hang Me Up to Dry” back in 2006 when Cold War Kids’ first album Robbers and Cowards was released.” Since then, I’d call myself a fan with reservations, solely because I had no idea that their second album Loyalty to Loyalty existed—so what kind of true fan can I be?

Listeners of the Cold War Kids’ third album Mine Is Yours are treated to a similar sound from we heard on that first single, but with some more mature lyrics. The great thing about the album is that I feel like the guys have really grown up with me and their lyrics reflect their more adult lives. You have to already be drawn in to Nathan Willett’s vocals to really like the band, and I’ve compared them to The Decemberists’ Colin Meloy’s vocals in the past. Before you leave this page altogether, just note that I think the two guys sound nothing alike—what I mean to get across is that both have very distinctive voices, Meloy a bit of a nasally-folk-driven voice and I would call Willett’s more of a powerful falsetto, an energetic and somehow appealing, almost anxious-sounding whiny vocal. Let’s dig into this album and see how it pans out.

The title song provides a catchy backdrop to a romance, tinged with realism. This is an adult relationship, not a flowers and candy for prom, this-is-the-best-date-ever-and-I’m-marrying-this-person-tomorrow infatuation. We’re treated to a solid, catchy beat and Nathan’s vocals at their tenuous best. There’s just a hint of that raw, garage-band edge to keep us moving along to the rest of the tracks.

“Royal Blue” is a bass and drum-driven song with the same swingy guitar rhythm we’ve come to know and love from Cold War Kids. This is one of my favorites off of “Mine Is Yours.” I like the vaguely 60’s “wanderer” style lyrics of a carefree young guy happily living in the moment. I particularly am drawn to the light guitar riffs that float along above the driving bass beats—the result is a track that really fills in all the space afforded it and takes its sweet time doing so.

My other favorite is “Finally Begin.” Another optimistic-sounding song, but this one takes on the relationship issue again (hey, it’s Valentine’s Day, it’s fitting!), but this is another one about the possibility of a mature, adult relationship. The song’s a light little track that fills your ears with happiness, hope, and the promise of the future…

“Out of the Wilderness” most closely resembles “Hang Me Up to Dry” with the clacking drumsticks and hard-edged rock mixed with folksy, bluesy twang that are hard not to love. Think of this one as a steel-toed, cowboy-booted waltz. Can’t imagine it? Check out a sample from iTunes here.

I’m not crazy about “Sensitive Kid,” but it does remind me a bit of their hit from 2006 “Hospital Beds.” I really am just turned off by the chorus and the held note to make the phrase fit nicely into the beat. I do, however, really like the downbeat verses the start and end the song.

One song really reminded me of Arcade Fire, due to the rather off-putting anti-beat, and the hopeful-sounding guitar riff in the middle. Willett’s vocals are so shaky and swallowed on this one that I end up feeling anxious and cold, but I love the lyrics.

The antithesis is true of the endcap on the album “Flying Upside Down”—where Willett’s voice reaches some of the lower depths that I would imagine possible for him. He reaches the upper and lower regions of his vocal range comfortably and confidently. The vocals are tied up beautifully with the rhythm created by Maust, Russell, and Aveiro to move the song along so quickly that you’re left wanting more after the chaotic, arena-approved end.

All in all, another great offering from Cold War Kids that you should get your hands on if you’re a fan.

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