Cold War Kids

    {grate 3/4}

    Summoned from SoCal obscurity by chorusing bloggers, Cold War Kids met avid success on the Web and, later, with their debut. Loyalty to Loyalty, the band’s sophomoric effort, stamps out the Christian undertones of their first album for a soapbox that puts the sermonic skeleton to better use.

    Guitars restrung with Sagittarian bowstrings alongside piano chords hammered by arthritic hands will ring gorgeously familiar for many fans; however, a hasty miscegenation of sub-rock genres often thins the greater good.

    Although the album’s second half shoots for diversity with swamp-rock, saloon-style melodies (“Every Valley Is Not A Lake”), opiated tempos on the verge of arrest (“Avalanche In B”) and the yowling tides of Nathan Willet’s falsetto (“Relief”), the band cuts corners with a shallow bag of cheap tricks.

    Willett draws vibrato from the middle of words — almost as if his lyrics were chords — for a narrative plaster-thick with alimony symbolism, metaphors for diminishing returns and other figurative middle-aged concerns.

    The album’s bluesy roots give Willett’s deafening pleads for attention the vocal tenor of a traveling preacher disguised as a sweaty tramp, finding a fascinating self-righteousness under a mess of overintent.

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