Cold War Kids

Robbers and Cowards | Downtown
By MATT ASHARE  |  January 9, 2007
2.0 2.0 Stars
Don’t be surprised if you find yourself thinking you’ve heard these guys somewhere before. Stuck between the piano-laced pop of Spoon and the brash referential boldness of the Killers or the Strokes, LA’s Cold War Kids are a Frankenstein rock creation with all the right credentials: tours with cool bands like Two Gallants and Tapes ’N Tapes; a Lollapalooza appearance; a couple of gleaming reviews in mainstream mags. And in Nathan Willett they have a singer who maintains his balance on the edge of hysteria, whether he’s crooning with sympathy for his victims in “Robbers” or promising his wife and kids (it’s called character acting) he’ll never “touch another drink” and just plain old feeling sorry for himself in “Hang Me Up To Dry.” It’s all a bit much: by the middle of the disc he’s worked himself into such a frenzy that you want to medicate the poor kid. Fortunately, he’s supported by a band who temper his tantrums with borrowed guitar hooks, an occasional stab at avant discord, and the ability to mix and match jangly pop with heavy piano chordings. It all keeps Robbers & Cowards flowing along to its frantic conclusion, the noisy “Rubidoux.” It’s followed by a “hidden” gospel-tinged track in which Willett wisely asks, “Lord have mercy on me.”
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