Two years on from their last offering and with the addition of new guitarist Dan Gallucci, Cold War Kids return with Dear Miss Lonely Hearts: an album which sticks fairly rigidly to their tried and tested formula.
Cold War Kids have been part of the American indie scene for the better part of the last decade, treating the masses to their brand of slow burning pop-rock, somewhere between The Killers and Kings of Leon.
The kick starts with the charming, upbeat and fast paced stomp of recent single Miracle Mile, which seems a little way off their usual mid tempo arena rock leanings. It is a song filled to bursting with hooks and the almost gospel style wailing vocals make it a distinctively Cold War Kids song.
After this, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts falls into Cold War Kids by numbers territory. You get the low key electronic sounds of Loner Phase, the almost Spaghetti Western meets tribal drumming of Fear and Trembling and the slow burning, almost futuristic beats of Bottled Affection. All of these songs have great hooks and huge choruses, but they seem to get lost somewhere with none of them really jumping out from the others. One song that does manage to jump out a little is Tuxedoes, for all the wrong reasons. It is another slow and soulful number, but the mix on the vocals is somewhat off, making them sound harsh and jarring.
Having said that, the album's sure fire highlight is Jailbirds, a jaunty rocker, with a fat bass line and a noisy breakdown reminiscent of Queens of the Stone Age. This song offers something a little different and breaks the slight monotony of the rest of the album.
The album closes with two more slow burning ballad type songs, Dear Miss Lonely Hearts and Bitter Poem, concluding the album with a whisper rather than a bang. This is a band of musicians who are great at what they do, but it is mind boggling to imagine what they could achieve if they pushed themselves out of their comfort zone.
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