Cold War Kids
Cold War Kids is a band from Long Beach, CA that I've gone back and forth on for several months now. At times I think, wow, this is really great stuff, chock full of catchy hooks, unusual beats and powerful vocals. At other times I fret over the synthesizer-infused grooves and drum machine present on some of the tracks.
My hang-up, I think, is that the music has a decidedly ‘80s feel to it and let’s just say the ‘80s weren't my favorite musical era. There's not a hint of the transformative grunge influences of the 1990s that permeate so much current rock music and to which I naturally gravitate.
Yet I keep coming back to the band. While Eddie Vedder and Curt Cobain don’t appear to be influences, Jack White clearly is. The first time I heard “Saint John” I thought it was a White Stripes tune, with its constantly shifting melodies and rhythms. Which made me think, wait a second, these guys aren’t really ‘80s; their music just doesn’t have that familiar post-grunge aftertaste. But other tracks, like “Bitter Poem,” sound like George Michael which is not necessarily a bad thing, it’s just confusing. I also hear a whisper of The Cult in “First,” and Boy-era U2 in “Miracle Mile.” Visually, the video for “Audience” (above) reminds me of Duran Duran’s “Rio” video with its yacht theme and inscrutable story line.
Cold War Kids has released five full-length albums, each of which contains at least a few excellent tracks. Some of my favorite songs, including “First” (below), “Go Quietly,” and “Hot Coals” are from their most recent record, 2014’s Hold My Home, which suggests a very positive trajectory. I'm not usually a fan of “Greatest Hits” records by bands with only five albums, but I think Cold War Kids could be an exception. To try out the concept, I put together a “Best of Cold War Kids” playlist on Spotify. Check it out and let me know if you think they're a throwback or surreptitiously modern.