By Lindsay Wallace
The Cold War Kids’ boss Nathan Willett had more than enough of his own toxic-guitar to go around on the band’s latest EP, Behave Yourself, a slight dip in consistency from 2006’s Robbers & Cowards and 2008’s Loyalty to Loyalty. The EP opener, “Audience”, has a chorus you can sing all the way into oblivion while “Santa Ana Winds” takes the band back to their SoCal roots. Like their first albums, while outstanding, this EP doesn’t even match up to the 3D rampage of their live shows.
“You need a record you can move to, well we got one – Drop the needle, we are playing for an audience of one,” barks frontman Nathan Willett. They stick to the turf they know, which is the steady-rolling rock and soul that makes their independent hearts beat. As always, Willett’s voice is pure gold (even bringing to mind Jack White in those high notes) and the songs are worthy as well, with a new theme song in “Audience”. While there are lots of indie rock bands out there trying to work this type of sound, the Cold War Kids attack it with an unusual intensity that brings you back for more.
The songs are their strongest yet, showcasing Willett’s steady and outstanding voice over chiming guitars, barroom piano and soulful choruses. Their minimalist, high-volume blues/punk/rock combination becomes just one of the many hues here, among the ballads (Sermons, “Getting closer every day, Lord have mercy on me, we’re talking about two different things – television and Life magazine..” ), soul anthems, and old Western piano bars. The intense guitar strumming, drums so hard almost everything rocks, and the furious piano banging are reminders of how seriously spirited and soulful these indie rockers really are.
The band put together Behave Yourself while touring for their previous record. Willett described the four songs on the EP, “They didn’t belong there (on Loyalty to Loyalty) but they kept hanging around, starting trouble, made friends and insisted their story be heard.”
The band is back in the studio this month to create their third album with producer Jacquire King. This accomplished producer has worked with Modest Mouse, Norah Jones, Tom Waits, and Kings of Leon, among others. Willett told Filter magazine, ”He is going to work miracles with us. All of our music has always been written entirely by us without any influence, so to have him step in and help us with the direction is tremendous. I was just watching the Wilco Documentary again and I think that in many ways Wilco is to country/Americana as Cold War Kids is to soul/punk. We are taking what we do to the next level on this record. The EP is the final reminder of the good old days of quick and fun, minimal Cold War Kids recording.”
Cold War Kids – “Audience”