Album Review: Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts

by David Safar

Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts
Cold War Kids - Dear Miss Lonelyhearts (Courtesy of Downtown Records)

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Cold War Kids are one of the most underrated American indie rock bands of the past five years. There are reasons why they lost the spotlight enjoyed by their successors: they are no longer considered a new band; they aren't trying to be sexy; they aren't trying to challenge you, and they aren't creating music that emulates what's trending.

Instead, Cold War Kids write and record songs that are quintessentially modern rock. It's not a cool thing to do when you've been a band for close to a decade, but it's also why their new album, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts is a refreshing return to normal in 2013.

Over the past three albums, Cold War Kids have developed their own brand of piano- and guitar-driven rock music. Nathan Willet and his bandmates have consistently produced songs that maintain their signature sound while building on the band's best qualities. While Dear Miss Lonelyhearts is hardly a departure from what fans expect from Cold War Kids, it is their first concept album (inspired by the Nathanael West novel Miss Lonelyhearts).

All 10 album tracks demonstrate Willett's ability as a storyteller and singer. While the conceptual aspect of the album is apparent in songs like "Tuxedos," and "Bottled Affection," Cold War Kids still manage to include hook-driven rock songs. If you don't care to indulge in the concept behind the songs, "Miracle Mile" and "Jailbirds" easily fit the mold of the bands previous albums.

For longtime fans, Dear Miss Lonelyhearts also has elements of the band's beginnings. The album's closing track is an atmospheric song called "Bitter Poem" that slowly builds to a crescendo before fading into an abrupt file guitar riff. Willett chants, "I can't hear you, did you say that you're happy for me?," leaving you to wonder if he is singing about himself or the character of Miss Lonelyhearts.

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