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The all-inclusive, ever-changing, and uncomfortably flexible guide to all things music in the 2010's.

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Cold War Kids - Mine Is Yours: B+

Cold War Kids have the distinct honor of being the only group whose album has given me nightmares. Yep, not Black Sabbath, not Skullflower, not even Deathspell fucking Omega (French black metal, natch. Def check it out). The band’s debut album, 2006’s Robber’s and Cowards kept me deprived of sleep for at least a week after I bought it in anticipation of seeing them open for Muse at MSG in 2007. The reason this occurred could be boiled down to lead singer Jonnie Russell, whose temperate shriek on songs like “Hang Me Up To Dry” could not get the hell out of my head, and in only the worst way possible. To this day, I cannot approach that god-awful album without cringing that I should suffer another sleepless night because this asshole wants to sound like Arethra Franklin.

Well the good news is that, on Mine Is Yours, the band’s third album, Jonnie Russell does not sound like a strangled dolphin. In fact, ever since their second album, Loyalty to Loyalty, he has been tempering his voice to what now sounds most similar to The Black Keys’s Dan Auerbach. This taming of Russell’s eccentricities is no coincidence, as Mine Is Yours is a clear attempt by the band to hit mainstream success. With Kings of Leon producer Jacquire King in tow, the band has sufficiently rubbed off their rough edges to create something that does not attempt to hide the fact that it is trying to reach for a KOL-type crossover.

Fortunately, Cold War Kids do a better Come Around Sundown Kings of Leon than Come Around Sundown Kings of Leon. If you haven’t already deduced, Mine Is Yours is, in this critic’s opinion, Cold War Kids’s best album, which is hilarious considering the critical beating the album has received from publications that had once hailed their inception. I’m not going to pretend that Mine Is Yours isn’t a shallow attempt to get played on Hot 97, but the safe and unassuming version of these guys is a shit ton better than what they sounded like when they first came onto the scene. “Skip the Charades” features a guitar line that subtly rips off Silversun Pickups’s “Lazy Eye”, and four of the album’s songs end in reverb-heavy cymbal-crashing, which I’m sure will go over well at Bonnaroo, but I can’t say that it ever sounds particularly cheap or even ham-fisted in its approach. Finally, the album’s production gives the group some space instead of being so aggravatingly bone dry. I know people are going to HATE the electronic experiment, “Sensitive Kid”, but I quite like it, especially during Russull’s gentle falsetto in the song’s chorus.

Many Cold War Kids fans are going to despise Mine Is Yours for being the shameless cash-grab that it is, but it’s not half the atrocity it has been labeled as. You can leave it on when your mom subtly slips it into your car stereo in an attempt to prove to you that she knows what the kids are listening to these days. It’s still bland and it’s still adult contemporary, but come on. It’s adult contemporary. You could do a lot worse.


1 comment:

  1. Good review, that Lazy Eye similarity was exactly the same thing I thought of when I heard Skip the Charades.