After the raw shift in direction that Cold War Kids took with 'Little Miss Lonelyhearts', the band's fifth album acts as a return to the dynamic that made their sound so essential and distinctive when they first arrived back in 2006.
What that means is vocalist Nathan Willett sounding like he's on the verge of a hyperactive breakdown, an angsty, nervous vocal somewhere between blind panic and extreme anguish. It's a role that Willett plays so well that as a listener you worry he's just one song away from a breakdown. And it's not just the frontman - every note, riff or snare from the band has exactly the same intensity, exactly the same whirling, wild essence, just subjected to more discipline; if Arcade Fire and Interpol combined to form some sort of Naughties supergroup in the future, you know that this is how it could sound.
The exceptions begin with 'Go Quietly', a sensitive, soulful track with simple but devastating piano refrains, a stirring falsetto chorus and beautiful harmonies that suggests it needn't always be quite so melodramatic chez Cold War Kids. That emotional streak continues through the shimmering textures of 'Nights And Weekends', the song possessing a rousing, filmic quality that more traditional CWK tracks like the blistering heat of the opener 'All This Could Be Yours' or the punchy garage rock of the album's title track bludgeon into mere fragments.
The album's most surprising move comes with the ambiguous 'Hotel Anywhere', which sees the band delivering the sort of loud, big anthemic rock that Simple Minds excelled at back in the day.
This far into their career, Cold War Kids should be thinking about a greatest hits - 'Hold My Home' is more or less that, given the staple reference points of the band that it covers, and yet it's all new and all the more vibrant for it.
Words: Mat Smith
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