Cold War Kids: Hold My Home

6 Dec

I really have no idea why Cold War Kids have received such mediocre and negative reviews over the last couple of years, considering the quality and amount of music (two full-length albums and an EP, to be precise) they have released in this time.

Hold My Home is by no means Cold War Kids’ most dynamic, polished or progressive album. The songs in general lack their usual refined contrast, and the album as a unit blares as an almost continuous howl. The lyrics in the title track, “Hold My Home”, shed light on this, revealing the idea that the album as a whole is a raw, urban cry for fresh air:

Choreography in Piccadilly
It’s time to carve out a place in the sun
I’d like to hold my home where
The seasons never ever ever change

Hold My Home nonetheless houses a handful of gems which stand out even from Cold War Kids’ extensive discography. Whilst “All This Could Be Yours” touches base with the signature sound the band became famous for – layers of instrumental rough edges topped with Willett’s unbridled vocal angst – “First” tenderly displays their gift for unique, engrossing, soulful melodies, layering gentler instrumental tracks and vocals, complete with backing harmonies that fit like a glove.

I do have a standout favourite track, though. “Drive Desperate” begins with a striking staccato chord progression, slowly building tension and weight before giving way to howling guitar solo between verses – largely uncharted territory for Cold War Kids. If the chorus latches onto you, the “we are not alone” refrain towards the end of the song will reach into your ribcage and shake your cold, dead heart to life in the same way “Bottled Affection” (Tuxedos), “Miracle Mile” (Dear Miss Lonelyhearts), and “Bulldozer” (Mine Is Yours) did.

Frontman crooner/howler Nathan Willett continues to reach for new vocal heights in this album  – both literally, in “Go Quietly”, and regarding technique (specifically: measured precision) in “Harold Bloom” – a stripped-down, wry track worth noticing.

Joe Plummer (of The Shins and, previously, Modest Mouse) fills departed drummer Matt Aveiro’s place well, deftly outlining Cold War Kids’ wild ruckus in bold, uncomplicated percussion.

Overall, Hold My Home is another strong release from Cold War Kids. May it be the band is in a rough, transitional phase, this is yet another milestone in a career comprised of new heights.

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