Life during cold wartime

The LA blues-rockers change their game.

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

Image by Photo courtesy of Dan Monick

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

by Sally Hedberg

WHAT: Cold War Kids

WHEN: Thursday 8:00 p.m.

WHERE: First Ave. Mainroom, 701 First Ave. N.

COST: $16

In just five years, the California band that brought us âÄúHang Me Out to DryâÄù has accomplished a lot. TheyâÄôve already dropped two full-length records and theyâÄôve toured around the globe, but their recently released third LP, âÄúMine is Yours,âÄù marks a definite change in the bandâÄôs process, one that they will attempt to showcase when they take the stage tonight at First Ave.

âÄúWe spent the first four years as a band on tour to where we didnâÄôt really have any introspection,âÄù lead vocalist Nathan Willett said. âÄúWe just kind of did everything all the time. This is the first time we spent a long time on an albumâÄù

In reality, âÄúMine is YoursâÄù features a handful of important firsts for the band. For one, theyâÄôve strayed away from building their album around a fictional narrative as they did on the first two. Because of this, their sentiments are more broadly reflective, and the listener is able to better grasp the true songwriting ability of Cold War Kids.

The other significant change is that they teamed up to record with a big-name producer, Jacquire King (Modest Mouse, Tom Waits). This was a decision made simply in the spirit of trying something different, as theyâÄôre a band whose sound is characterized by a strict adherence to an uncut, blues-punk formula.

âÄúIt was kind of like having a teacher in the room guiding things,âÄù Willett said. âÄúThe performances on the album are better, and the sounds are more deliberate and thought-out and textured.âÄù

Inarguably, the bandâÄôs playing is tighter than ever, and the newfound sonic intricacy is apparent in the production quality. Yet, something prevents it from becoming the type of album that yields an incessant iTunes play count (ahem, Arcade Fire, Beach House). It makes sense in a way. Because their first two releases were narratives, it forced a cohesive sound aesthetic. Since âÄúMine is YoursâÄù is not structured like the earlier albums, the resulting product ends up a stylistic grab-bag. While it does provide a couple of solid singles, itâÄôs too fragmented and lackluster as a whole. ItâÄôs an okay album. ItâÄôs just not their best.

Pitchfork agrees, and in an especially scathing manner. From the beginning of the bandâÄôs career, theyâÄôve become a target for the scorn from the music website. Whether theyâÄôre making snide comments about the music or stigmatizing the band members for having all attended a Catholic university, Cold War Kids feel like theyâÄôre being singled out.

âÄúThey donâÄôt want to let us into their club, and in many ways I think itâÄôs because they didnâÄôt have anything to do with discovering us or making us in any way,âÄù Willett said.

There are surely two sides to the coin, but the band has remained successful without the endorsement of Pitchfork, so they donâÄôt let the critical bullying get them down.

âÄúThereâÄôs nothing more boring to me than the thought of reading a Pitchfork review,âÄù Willett said.

TheyâÄôre set to play venues as big as Radio City Music Hall, and they feel their new material has already been well-received by audiences. This is a testament to the fact that, despite a third album that fell flat, they still have fans out there that are willing to shell out a few bones to see them live.