Review : Cold War Kids - Behave Yourself
AbsolutepunkShould we really use the word “disappointed” when discussing bad music? Is it really our right to expect so much from strangers? I see both sides of the argument, I suppose, because these uneducated smelly fools we call musicians are putting themselves out there, thus removing any possible buffer between their right to “make art” and our right to tell them their mother is a bad cook. It all seems a bit self-centered on the part of the listener, I guess. It’s like how your parents tell you they are disappointed, since they only do so to make you feel guilty in the hopes that you will stop leaving Upper Deckers in the guest bathroom. But despite what is right and what is wrong when it comes to notes through speakers, Cold War Kids clearly spent time processing the lackluster response to Loyalty to Loyalty. Every artist will say they only make music for themselves – which, I suppose, is even more self-centered than our whining about songs we don’t like – but they still need us to keep going.
So I’m not saying that Cold War Kids went back to the success of Robbers and Cowards because of our high-pitched complaining. All I’m saying is that the Behave Yourself EP does return triumphantly to the fun-loving parlor antics of the band’s debut long player. I make no hard claims as to the why. The reasons behind such a change are mysterious, to be sure, but when Nathan Willett sings, “Lord have mercy on me,” in “Sermons,” a song originally released years prior that was “randomly” placed at the end of Behave Yourself, it does seem like the band used our disappointment (or whatever!) to create the worthy follow-up to Robbers and Cowards we’ve all been waiting for....full text
AllmusicThough it’s only 14 minutes long, Behave Yourself goes a long way toward showing what Cold War Kids can do with their music. Their second album, Loyalty to Loyalty, was filled with nearly as many disappointments as innovations, but this EP focuses that album’s dark, soulful direction into four impressive songs. “Audience of One” begins Behave Yourself on a surprisingly smooth note, bringing Cold War Kids' sound, especially Nathan Willett’s vocals, closer to the Jeff Buckley-tinged side of their music than their feisty rock. “Sermons” gets even more soulful and feels appropriately gospel-inspired, and while the bright pop of “Coffee Spoon” and “Santa Ana Winds” doesn’t exactly rock, these songs bring an energy that contrasts nicely with the EP’s other tracks. Streamlined, confident, and cohesive, Behave Yourself finds Cold War Kids getting their groove back....full text
ConsequenceofsoundWhat’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....full text
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