Authentically fervent and funky
Cold War Kids has just released their self-titled album Cold War Kids after over a decade of being together. After years of releasing music, the band has finally found a sound that feels authentic to them and that they’re incredibly proud of. Cold War Kids is a record that contains just the right amount of upbeat-bangers and sentimental tracks that reflect on life experiences, which all flow smoothly together. With touches of jazz and funk, listeners are transported to a musical world where they are welcome to both dance and feel their emotions deeply.
First up on the album is “Double Life,” which features upbeat drums and crunchy-sounding guitar. Willet’s dynamic, wide-ranging voice accompanied by harmonies comes in right away to tell a story about multifacetedness. He sings “When you live a double life, it’s dangerous / Oh, not to fear love, not to fear.” Although the song’s talking about something a bit more serious, the upbeat nature of the composition makes the track hopeful which makes for a great start to the album. “Run Away With Me” starts with distorted vocals, drums and sultry bass. There are jazzy elements scattered throughout the verses, such as organ-like synthesizer and quick flicks of guitar. Given the good vibes and catchy rhythm of the chorus, it is easy to see why this is the most popular track on the album.
The fifth song “Another Name” has gentle piano chords and taps on the hi-hat. Willet’s vocal performance feels bouncy yet is still quite emotive. The bounciness nicely matches the lyrics “I’m finding my voice, it’s clumsy / But I like it anyway / I think I’m gonna be okay.” “Blame” is the type of song that would be featured in a coming-of-age movie with the perky drum playing and electric guitar. The deeper and higher-pitched vocalizations create an interesting effect during the chorus that makes it even more fun to listen to. The bridge takes a moment to break down, especially with the lyrics “’Cause you were all that I want, you were all that I need.” It is as though this song was written both to make people dance and help listeners navigate relationship dynamics.
The funk continues in the track “Empty Inside.” Everything about this song is groovy, from the tapping of world drums, deep bassline, higher register guitar ditties and sizzles of the hi-hat. The soulfulness of the instrumentation nicely correlates with the message in the lyrics “I’m so afraid that I’ll find I got no soul / What if I’m empty inside?” The second to last song “Betting on Us” is a ballad celebrating Willet’s marriage that begins with jumpy piano chords that rest for a few beats to give the vocals space. Willet sings “Now we’re way past wood / We’ll go from crystal to silver.” Here he envisions a future with his partner where they’re celebrating their 25th year together. The strings that fade out as the song ends is a sweet touch and is bound to make listeners daydream.
The record closes with “Starring Role.” Willet’s vocals are deep and thus very prominent, much like the bassline. The instrumentation is pleasantly simplistic and is meant to add to the dramatics of the song’s message. The last minute of the piece speeds up and is triumphant. The last lines “Will you direct me, let me shine? / I want the starring role this time” could be talking about Cold War Kids’ integrity as a band and how they want their authentic selves to stay with them as they grow as artists. They want their authenticity to take center stage for the remainder of the group’s career.
Cold War Kids is the album to listen to regardless if you’re in the mood to dance or ponder life’s questions. Cold War Kids’ newest release is a masterclass in balancing funk with sentimental elements.