What’s a good time without a little foreplay after all? In this case, there are eardrums that need to be stretched back out, minds that need preparing, and last, but certainly not least, a nice warm drink (something a little spicier than hot chocolate) to go with that book of yours, all while you curl up and listen to the Cold War Kids’ latest release.
For now, however, the short and sweet Behave Yourself EP will get many plays, especially from fans of 2008s’ Loyalty to Loyalty. The tracks — some new, one old — play out similarly with less swing than their debut (2006’s Robbers and Cowards), and are much more straightforward for the band. Granted, Cold War Kids still stand out as something unique and beautiful.
Opening with the wonderfully piano heavy track “Audience”, lead singer Nathan Willett shows no fear in his expressive vocal range. This empowered loner shines a bright light on those days spent traveling alone. Willett suggests, “Close your eyes/put your finger on the globe/Spin it round and where it stops you got to pack your bags and go.” As par for a Cold War Kids’ release, there is no limit to the amount of instrumentation used, it’s the general “what can we shake and beat on”-mentality that leads the band to the use of occasional hand claps.
“Coffee Spoon” needs no sweetener as its the tastiest song of the five. A light keyboard, as well the ever present trickling guitars of Jonnie Russell, bring a comfort level to the track similar to that of 2008’s “Dreams Old Men Dream”. Though the song lacks the climax that really pulls together the Loyalty track.
If you aren’t from the bands southern California home, “Santa Ana Winds” isn’t likely to make quite the same impression, though most can appreciate the idea of “seat belts sticking in poison heat.” The band seem quite fond of their home, even after worldwide travels, and the song is bouncier and less grandiose than anything off of Loyalty, falling back to a more original sound found earlier in their debut.
Perhaps showing their wish to return to a more simpler time, the band has included a reworked version of “Sermon’s”, which was originally found as a bonus track on Robbers and Cowards. This studio version firstly doesn’t sound as if it was produced on a 25 dollar Wal Mart recorder, and it really allows Willett’s voice to come through and let his soul bleed on tape. It sounds more like he is begging for forgiveness for killing a person, rather than say… stepping on a beetle on the original. The song is slightly slowed down as well, though not enough to really affect it greatly.
What can be gathered from this four track sampling (of which only three songs are new)? It seems as though through traveling, the band has found where they belong in this musical world. As realized by Willett on “Santa Ana Winds”, “You tore me up by the roots and fell silent again/My seeds have blown around but never land.” Perhaps another full length effort will feature a band comfortable in their new skin.