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Cold War Kids - New Age Norms 1 (Album Review)

Wednesday, 20 November 2019 Written by Jacob Brookman

With the economics of the music industry in a prolonged state of flux, bands have found new ways to get by. Cold War Kids, who burst onto the American indie scene with ‘Robbers and Cowards’ in 2006, have decided to release three short albums instead of one full LP. ‘New Age Norms 1’ is the first in that series and to longtime fans the results will be pleasing. 

This eight-track record lives at the centre of Cold War Kids’ sound. Nimble, soulful indie songwriting is merged with Nathan Willett’s fantastic drawl; sometimes spitting sass, sometimes lost in falsetto warbling. This is particularly noteworthy on the excellent Dirt in my Eyes, a track that lands handsomely between the groove-based rock of the Killers and Paul Weller.

Elsewhere, 4th of July is similarly impressive—a terse, chunky song led by piano that recalls the cabaret pop of Mika or (occasionally) Elton John. Beyond the Pale occupies a similar space, despite being a ballad. Here, solemn chords are elevated by vocals that place the song in a sonic intersection of an indie dive bar and a Broadway theatre.  

If there are complaints with the record, then they are the same as they have always been with Cold War Kids: that their polished sound is ultimately quite derivative, and that its lack of risk-taking dulls its edge.

This is a band who clearly have fantastic taste and a great ear for detail, but the music doesn’t have the charisma of other, more unusual musicians; the kind of charisma that makes you dig out a live performance or look up an interview on YouTube. 

All of which feels a little unfair, and also very difficult to address from the band’s point of view. This is an otherwise very well put together piece of work; it just lacks a certain je ne sais quoi.

Cold War Kids Upcoming Tour Dates are as follows:

Wed November 20 2019 - SAN FRANCISCO California - Fillmore - San Francisco (USA)
Fri November 22 2019 - SANTA CRUZ California - Live in the Atrium at The Catalyst (USA)
Thu December 19 2019 - ST LOUIS Missouri - Delmar Hall (USA)
Fri December 20 2019 - KANSAS CITY Missouri - Arvest Bank Theatre at the Midland (USA)
Thu January 16 2020 - PORTLAND Oregon - Mcmenamins Crystal Ballroom (USA)
Fri January 17 2020 - SEATTLE Washington - Neptune Theatre (USA)
Sat January 18 2020 - SEATTLE Washington - Neptune Theatre (USA)
Sun January 19 2020 - VANCOUVER British Columbia - Commodore Ballroom (Canada)
Wed January 22 2020 - DENVER Colorado - Ogden Theatre (USA)
Thu January 23 2020 - OMAHA Nebraska - Waiting Room (USA)
Fri January 24 2020 - MINNEAPOLIS Minnesota - First Avenue (USA)
Sat January 25 2020 - CHICAGO Illinois - Riviera Theatre - IL (USA)
Mon January 27 2020 - COLUMBUS Ohio - Newport Music Hall (USA)
Tue January 28 2020 - DETROIT Michigan - Majestic Theatre Detroit (USA)
Wed January 29 2020 - TORONTO Ontario - Phoenix Concert Theatre (Canada)
Fri January 31 2020 - PHILADELPHIA Pennsylvania - Fillmore Philadelphia (USA)
Sat February 01 2020 - BOSTON Massachusetts - House of Blues Boston (USA)
Tue February 04 2020 - NEW YORK New York - Webster Hall (USA)
Wed February 05 2020 - NEW YORK New York - Webster Hall (USA)
Fri February 07 2020 - RICHMOND Virginia - National Richmond (USA)
Sat February 08 2020 - CHARLOTTE North Carolina - Fillmore Charlotte (USA)
Mon February 10 2020 - PONTE VEDRA BEACH Florida - Ponte Vedra Concert Hall (USA)
Tue February 11 2020 - ATLANTA Georgia - Buckhead Theatre presented by Cricket Wireless (USA)
Wed February 12 2020 - NASHVILLE Tennessee - Marathon Music Works (USA)
Fri February 14 2020 - TULSA Oklahoma - Cains Ballroom (USA)
Sat February 15 2020 - AUSTIN Texas - Stubb's Waller Creek Amphitheater (USA)

Click here to compare & buy Cold War Kids Tickets at Stereoboard.com.

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