Cold War Kids make a strong return with “L.A. Divine”

Released a decade after the band’s debut, “L.A. Divine” combines a newfound simplicity with the sound they’ve perfected.

When it comes to blues-rock, The Cold War Kids are alright.

Photo courtesy of Dan Monick

When it comes to blues-rock, The Cold War Kids are alright.

Katie Lauer

For Cold War Kids frontman Nathan Willett, “L.A. Divine,” which was released today, was a venture into simplicity while still bringing the band’s signature driving, indie rock sound.

From the belt-in-your-car lead single “Love is Mystical,” the intimate honesty of “Cameras Always On,” and the cinematic questioning of “Free to Breathe,” the band’s sixth album encompasses the talent they’ve honed over the last 10 years.

The band’s piano-heavy, sonic rock sound paired with Willett’s unique, powerful vocals make this one of their best records to date, and Willett agrees.

“I really feel a special attachment to this album like no other one before it,” Willett said.

While songwriting, he said he flirted with a more open approach, pulling from real life conversations and experiences.

“Part of the goal is to say some of these more complicated things in the simplest ways,” he said. “That’s where I come from as a songwriter. I got to be pretty spontaneous, and I feel like a good thing that comes from that is something hopefully more vulnerable.”

This vulnerability can be heard in “So Tied Up,” “Can We Hang On?” and “Restless” — a very personal look into the musician’s long term relationship that sounds as intimate as talking with Willett about love over a few drinks.

Acting almost as commercial breaks within the record, various one-minute interludes provide a raw, if not slightly odd, voice to the record. The “Joshua Tree”-esque sound of “LA River” is a quality standout.

The band is already on tour and played First Avenue in March. Having performed at the venue multiple times, Willett said that while it’s not the biggest room, the atmosphere itself makes it one of the most important.

“I love that venue,” he said. “It’s very different to play such an iconic venue in that it regards itself as very important. The show is important and the music is important and people are watching in a way that the bar is high.”

“We’ve been so fortunate to be always on tour, always getting shows, always being busy and having good things come our way,” he said.