The Deal: California indie rockers release 13-track follow-up to 2006 debut, Robbers & Cowards.
The Good: When I first saw Cold War Kids two years ago at Bonnaroo, I wasn't impressed on my initial listen. The next day, the group did an acoustic performance in the press tent that dropped my jaw. It was raw, musical passion that flowed through the heat of the day. That same energy kicks off the band's sophomore effort with "Against Privacy." The band swings between catchy grooves and jagged jams. They keep the distorted guitar sounds intact, the drum beats are still different than the norm and the piano makes an occasional appearance – see "Every Valley Is Not a Lake." The band switches beats and grooves without notice, almost sounds off-key at times and out-of-time at other moments – it all gives the album a live, nowhere-near-polished sound that only increases the appeal instead of sounding like a garage band without talent.
The Bad: "Mexican Dogs" got a little repetitive – great groove on it, but lyrically unimpressive. "Avalanche in B" was a little too sleepy. The techno-fied bass of "Relief" seemed a little out-of-place. Nathan Willett's vocal style may get one some listener's nerves via recording, but, when witnessed live, you can see the heart he puts into every word he sings.
The Verdict: It'll take a few more listens to fully absorb, but initial reaction says it's a fine follow-up to the debut.