Cold War Kids | Dear Miss Lonelyhearts | Rating: 9/11 | Reviewed by: Rodney Schmidt |
A contradictory dichotomist of sound that is soul and punk all in one band; the living meet the dead and the hopeless dance with the optimistic is what you get in Dear Miss Lonelyhearts by the Cold War Kids. Their ability to create a story, recite some poetry, or darken the soul on a joyous day is the stunning reminder of why this southern California band controls the masses when their music is playing and ears are listening. Their new album is a wallop to the listener who is given stories of heartache, frustration within, and acknowledgment that the world is dark and is going to eat you alive.
Their first single off the record is “Miracle Mile.” Five seconds into the song I was immediately excited to hear them bring their classic sound back; raw, layered with powerful emotions and sprinkled with a little bit of frustration on top. The song starts out with an energetic slapping of the keys on the piano and a frustrated Nathan Willett (lead singer) singing, “I was supposed to do great things / I knew the road was long,” an exciting beginning to the story. The story is stirring and really explores the effortless initiative of just being present with the world and giving up on pointless possessions that create false ideas in one’s own mind. This opening song has the strength to bring back those fans that fell out of line when the band put out their third album,Mine is Yours, that was slow and story-less.
Willet possesses some haunting choir boy vocals that would send the choir screaming for salvation in the song “Lost That Easy.” Cold War Kids bring back their eerie soul like singing with blues rhyme guitar work, and psychedelic synthesizers that would make Ken Kesey’s brain pulsate. Willett’s voice echoes as he sings, “I’ve wandered / seen visions / I never could fit in / I’m out there / you’ll find me.” The song is a dark story within a mellow sound and almost hip-hop style flow to the vocals that are pleasing on many levels. The song is a great piece of poetry in its’ self and really explores many different poetic devices, like the use of colors and vowel sounds to help showcase their creative personalities’.
Like past songs, the Cold War Kids have a knack for making the listener so involved in their songs that they could feel like they are actually in the song. Classic songs like, “Golden Gate Jumpers” and “We Used to Vacation,” showed us the distraught and neurotic, and even though it was a song we were all listening to, it really made the listener feel like the song was a story playing in our own lives. Dear Miss Lonelyhearts provides the same great imagery that old fans love and the new fans will find enticing. This new record is a nice stepping stone for new guitarist Dann Gullucci who is known for his time playing with Washington band Modest Mouse. Gullucci joined the ranks after the departure of founding member Jonnie Russel in early 2012. The band acknowledges Russel’s departure on their website with nothing but admiration for his new found choice to continue bettering himself.
Cold War Kids are proving their longevity as a band and Dear Miss Lonelyhearts is a definite buy for anyone looking to add a little something new to their collection. Don’t download it though; pick up a hard copy from a record store. The CD actually comes with great artwork, something many bands are doing away with, and lyrics. Like many bands before them, they sing about heart break, emotions, and fears, but with one key difference, they don’t actually address any of these issues in their songs. In many ways, the band makes you work for the answer in their songs – they don’t simple address the issues, they only imply them.