Cold War Kids stands as a testament to the fact that you can produce the same uninspired sound on each album and not completely vanish into the annuals of history. Oh wait, Nickelback stands true to that but the difference between Cold War Kids and Nickelback is that people don’t utterly hate Cold War Kids. If anything, with each album that they released support for Cold War Kids seemed to dwindle. After the release of last year’s Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, support for Cold War Kids was at an all time low due to them releasing a replica of everything they had released before – except with a bit more synth.
With that in mind, it seems hard to believe that Cold War Kids has been around for ten years. When they entered the indie scene in 2006, they took the scene by storm with their debut album Robbers and Cowards. Except this was 2006, the indie scene revolved around guitar-based music and eccentric sounding vocalist. It is now 2014, and with each year the indie scene moved further and further away from a sound based heavily on electric guitars. However with each album, Cold War Kids stuck with their electric guitars and some desperate hope that they would become relevant again.
Ten years and five albums later, and it looks like Cold War Kids still haven’t learned – but there is something different about their music. From the opening song of Hold My Home, “All This Could Be Yours”, you can feel a spark of life has been injected into their music. An upbeat piano-driven melody courses through the song while intricate and gritty guitar pieces throw dark undertones to the song. Nathan Willett delivers lyrics that scream of a night out on the town, especially the chorus of “All this could be yours tonight”. Former Modest Mouse guitarist Dann Gallucci also closes off the song with an incredible and dark guitar solo.
This leads into the infectious clap-along indie pop anthem of “First”. This is one of those songs that you can’t help to bob your head to, and if you’re feeling energetic: dancing around your room while massacring the lyrics. “Hot Coals” hits you with a strutting sense of intense swagger as the band reaches deep into the bottom of their musical bag to draw out a rather sexy combination of sharp guitar riffs and groovy bass riffs. It definitely displays a new side to the band as they break free from the rather restrained and reserved sound they had grown accustomed to.
The problem with Hold My Home is found on the back-half of the album. Once you progress onto “Go Quietly”, Cold War Kids enters some kind of lackluster limbo. Metronomey displayed something similar earlier this year with Love Letters. It feels like the band decided to stop making an effort and turn back to their old ways. Those being uninspired and tired songs, that act more as filler than as stand-out songs. Despite delivering an energetic first-half, Cold War Kids stumbles onto the second half of the album like an actor who had too much to drink during the intermission. They deliver songs that completely miss the mark in the same way as the actor fails to get his lines right. Hold My Home may be their strongest record to date, but until Cold War Kids breaks out of the shackles of the fear of change then they’re going to remain a tired band with a dwindling support base.