Sunday, March 04, 2007

Cold War Kids - Robbers and Cowards (Downtown, 2006)

The Cold War Kids stand above a lot of their indie rock competitors with intelligent lyrics and interesting arrangements of their own original material. Vocalist Nathan Willett goes a long way in making the group unique with his range in singing going from near falsetto to mock Cockney sneer. The groups lyrical content seems to be the search for redemption in a skewered and cracked world. Some of the best songs on the LP are in this mode like the lead off track “We Used to Vacation,” a first person description of the fallout of drinking problems, this is a song you can imagine Ken Bruen quoting some of the lyrics from in a future novel. “Passing the Hat” and "Hospital Beds” examine hypocrisy and hope amidst dire situations with a skeptical but compassionate viewpoint, while “Hang Me Out to Dry” is simply blasting rock 'n' roll. Standing above it all is the albums best track, “Saint John,” the tale of a death-row inmate that melds the blues, hip-hip and melodic rock and roll into a graceful highlight. Some of the slower songs like "Robbers" and “Pregnant” can't reach the depth of the bands rockers but they do show the range the group is capable of, especially Willett's amazing voice. Overall this is a very good debut album from an interesting and talented group that deserves attention from fans of thoughtful rock and roll.

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