Sometimes the hard part in assigning a rating to an album is figuring out the context with which something should be judged. Should I judge this album against the alternative rock community at large or against Cold War Kids’ previous work? I suppose the best thing to do is, when there exists a disparity between those two contexts, is just to explain both. So here it is: compared to past Cold War Kids work, this is by far their least interesting and least unique. Their style migrates away from their distinct gritty barroom piano-pounding romp and towards a more traditional alt rock feel. Lyrically there’s just not the same captivating and fascinating ideas that permeated their first two records. But let’s be fair. Overall, the songs here are good (albeit not great) and they’re still one of the better bands out there that can pleasantly toe the line between alternative and mainstream rock. They are, and will remain, one of my first recommendations to someone who is looking for something new. I will, however, be recommending albums #1 or #2.
Album #3, Mine is Yours, may lack that something special that “Robbers & Cowards” had, but it’s not without its good tracks. The title track ushers in a slightly more anthemic style, but does it in a way that leads to positive feelings that not every change is for the worse. It works in other places too, like the catchy “Royal Blue” or the pleasantly melodic “Skip the Charades”. Still, overall there’s something missing. In the past where the delivery has allowed lines like “I give a check to tax deductible charity organizations” to come off as witty and amusing, the delivery fails on unfortunate lines like “I will take out the garbage/I will squeeze your juice/so nice to be making scrambled eggs with you” in “Cold Toes on the Cold Floor”.
The album is fine on its own, but it does mark a troubling transition for one of my favorite standbys. I’m sorry to think that, if this is part of their natural progression, that if they continue to “progress” much more, they really won’t be the same band anymore. Until then, let’s enjoy what we’ve got.