Californians offer vivid tales to soothe the spirit. Praise the Lord
Apart from teaching us that it sounds cool as frig to recite Ezekiel 25:17 before blowing someone’s face off (consult Pulp Fiction if you’re not sure why), The Bible’s greatest lesson is undoubtedly that Christians make great storytellers. The fact that three of the Cold War Kids first met at an Evangelical college suggests that they know a God-bothering yarn or eight, but thankfully, there’s no holy-Joe preaching to be endured on their debut album.
Instead, ‘Robbers & Cowards’ is stuffed with engrossing tales of fascinatingly flawed people, all of which are so convincingly delivered by singer Nathan Willett that you have to wonder if he’s experienced re-incarnation. The arid Americana of ‘We Used To Vacation’, for example, paints a grim, piano-tinted picture of an alcoholic father who can never manage to keep his promises of sobriety, but attempts to balance his domestic fuck-ups by donating to “tax-deductable charity organisations”. Meanwhile, the anti-hero in ‘Saint John’ hopes to be given a Death Row pardon while kicking up a rag-tag blues-stomp good enough to audibly lift the spirits of all his jailbird buddies. It’s not just the stories that dominate though. Tracks like ‘God, Make Up Your Mind’ and ‘Passing The Hat’ replicate the energy of Radiohead during their guitar-rock heyday, but with a fraction of the equipment and virtually no need for razorblade-proof wrist guards. Clearly, Cold War Kids would rather compel than convert us, and Lord knows they do it brilliantly in every respect.