Cold War Kids - L.A Divine - Albums - Reviews - Soundblab

Cold War Kids - L.A Divine

by Nathan Fidler Rating:3 Release Date:2017-04-07

Should you go into new releases with high expectations, or low? With Cold War Kids, their form dipped after the first two albums, but 2014’s Hold My Home had them on the rise again. Having parted ways with their guitarist, picking up another, their sixth album now features only two original members.

Lead single ‘Love Is Mystical’, was probably the only choice for the slot. It’s got a mean bass line with piano keys stammering and ringing out. Describing love as a mystical force, it appears to have led the band out of their mid-tour funk.

Looking past that singular track however, it looks like they’ve lost the form and momentum they were picking up. The line between being edgy and cool or being tone-deaf and ham-fisted is a fine one, but here Cold War Kids sit in the latter category.

‘Ordinary Idols’ brazenly asks why we’d idolise them, calling themselves the underdogs. It’s an overconfident hand to play and comes off as far too self-effacing. There are other misguided antics on ‘Wilshire Protest’ too, a spoken word high-and-might stream of consciousness seemingly tied to recent unrest in L.A over the trump government - but it’s probably this type of stuff which drives rural populations to become alienated with the glamour of the west and east coasts.

The music itself is far more beat driven this time, which is no bad thing, but it’s false sounding, pumping electronically on ‘Invincible’. No one expects them to still be using broken instruments, banging on the walls for percussion, but perhaps things were better like that? There is a reason that “less is more” works for some people.

Nathan Willett is more than capable of telling stories in an enthralling and imaginative way, he’s proven it before, but this is a far cry. There are no real stories and much of the character-driven paranoia is replaced by attempts for swish grandeur. Part of what is compelling about this band is their ability to get a little weird, be it with the music or the lyrics, and here there is neither.

This is an album so pompous that they were probably hoping that album closer ‘Part of the Night’ would be picked up by Coca-Cola for a summer campaign. The answer to the opening question about expectations then, it seems, is that for Cold War Kids we should set our expectations low in order to be surprised.

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