Released: September 23, 2008
Label: Downtown Music LLC.
By: Shawn Dullye
On their sophomore effort, Loyalty to Loyalty, California’s Cold War Kids make an attempt to mature and experiment, while maintaining their indie sound and front an Nathan Willet’s signature, smart-ass vibrato vocals. Just as with their debut album, 2006’s Robbers & Cowards, Willet’s lyrics are still dark and personal (touching on suicide and paranoia), the guitar lines still grainy, distorted, yet uncomplicated, while the rhythm section is there to keep things together.
The album kicks off with rockers “Against Privacy” and “Mexican Dogs,” the latter of which goes into a spacey chorus. Things then shift pace on the third track (“Every Valley Is Not a Lake”), where Willet shows off his soul-singing chops. The first single off of the album, “Something Is Not Right With Me,” comes off as obnoxious at first, but the dancey melodies and simple chorus (just sing the name of the song over and over, actually) eventually grab hold and make it undeniably catchy.
The downfall for Loyalty to Loyalty comes when Willet lets his ego take over and puts himself in the lime light, the result being slow and dreary, where the music is stripped down, Willet’s vocals are turned up, and failure inevitably ensues (i.e. “Cryptomnesia” and “Avalanche in B”). Unfortunately, this turns the entire second half of the album into hit-or-misses, with mostly misses.