Review ·

California’s Cold War Kids, with their indie-soul aesthetic and faux-blues-like charms, have never seemed to connect quite as well as they might have hoped in a general sense. It’s not that they haven’t found success or that their music is particularly bad. But when matched against the band members' myriad influences and apparent ambitions, their efforts often instill and strikingly ordinary feeling.


Frontman Nathan Willett and his Lou Reed crooning rarely provide a less-than-enjoyable experience, and the adequate accompaniment winningly mixes a post-punk moodiness with a soulful blues homage that is not without its pop sensibilities. More often than not, though, Cold War Kids go through the motions, leaving things a bit empty in terms of resonance. As a band, they carry themselves with confidence and purpose; but their delivery has always left a little something to be desired. Their latest EP, Behave Yourself, is an impressive step in a slightly more relevant direction.


Pointed and concise, while possessing an ornately distinct breadth of view, Behave Yourself is something of a refreshing take on the Cold War Kids own methods. It’s not reinvention, but refinement -- and it is mostly satisfying. Lead single “Audience” uses their usual soulful key strokes and lilting bellows, but there is a latently bittersweet quality to it that adds an extra layer of humanity and relativity to the affair. It’s been these kinds of organic flares that have been sorely lacking in previous Cold War Kids releases.


Continuing down a similar path, tracks like “Coffee Spoons” and “Santa Ana Winds” find intricate ways to be both biting and gentle. There is an art-rock atmosphere that never comes off quite as calculated or manufactured as it should or has in the past. For all the offbeat time signatures and bluesy intonations, Behave Yourself does good in the way of embracing an almost elemental elegance to its basic composition that is completely unassuming.


There may be moments of repetition that indicate a bit a creative bankruptcy, and even for an EP this is perhaps all too brief an outing. However, Behave Yourself easily topples most of Cold War Kids' previous endeavors. Hinting at a more focused and tightly wound sonic output in the future, it satisfies as well as tantalizes, and Cold War Kids would be wise to take this particular ball and run with it.


  • "Audience"
  • "Santa Ana Winds"
  • "Coffee Spoon"
  • "Sermons"

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Listening to Cold War Kids is like hearing a schizophrenic ramble: Mexican dogs, hospital beds, mud-covered linens, Santa Ana winds, coffee spoons, abusive boyfriends, fishing poles and the general notion that “Something Is Not Right With Me” create a vivid but incoherent mythology, and you almost don’t care that you have no idea what Nathan Willett is wailing about. The kids recorded part of this four-track EP while in the studio for their 2008 sophomore album Loyalty to Loyalty, and the rest came afterwards. According to the album artwork (and in keeping with their psychosis), the songs made them do it: “They kept hanging around, started trouble, made friends, and insisted they be heard.”

Soft Machine - Live At Henie Onstad Art Centre 1971 Eels End Times

I dread the thought of scrolling through the personal library of the writer of this review, one could only imagine the gems they would find. I'm sure his collection is mostly populated by whatever the radio tells him is "in" at the moment. There is nothing subjective about his review, his thoughts are guided by personal preference, it's not the unbiased opinion of a music journalist who truly understands music. Its amateur hour over here. "Behave Yourself" is just one more great album in a laundry list of dicography, its not the first time they are getting it right.



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I have to say that there is relatively little music played by mainstream media I find even decent, so when I find a band like Cold War Kids I am blown away by their art. The author of this review, on the other hand, seems to have been fed and fattened on the sludge of mainstream media. A music critic is not meant to just agree blindly with whatever happens to be "in" at the moment, they are meant to honestly LISTEN to the music and understand it. Behave yourself is an excellent edition to the amazing repertoire of Cold War Kids.


Mr. McDouchey Douche Douche. I can agree with honing their skills and becoming better. But you can honestly sit there and pretty much say Robbers & Cowards was only a semi-pop, moderately enjoyable album? Maybe your just a lame tool that has to fade in his face because someone might know it was him. Whatever man, I mean I would give this an 8. R&C 9.5 Loyalty 7.5 Loyalty was too bland from where R&C finished. It is a good listen now, however it starts to lull at times. Peace bitches.


i've got nothing to say without repeating everything that's already been said. robbers and cowards, what a ride. their best album.


What an awful review. Thanks for the lack of insight or objectivity.


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