Before releasing this 2006 full-length album, California's Cold War Kids toured relentlessly, released some EP's, and whipped the nation's youth into an evangelical rock-&-roll frenzy with their charismatic stagecraft and songsmithery, which updates classic rock conventions with a bit of angular, post-punk experimentation. Judging by the tunes here, the enthusiasm is well-deserved.
A propulsive rhythm section and Nathan Willett's ardent vocals make every song sound like some indie-rock version of gospel music, and that's not even taking into account the lyrics, which offer up religious and literary references that would be almost unbearable in band less genuine. The album also benefits from a vintage, tube-amp/analog-tape warmth that makes the music even more emotionally accessible. The highlight here is "Hang Me Up to Dry," on which Willett's bluesy wail makes it seem as if he's singing to save his very soul--or yours.
Rolling Stone (p.122) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Over cave-stomp drums, barroom piano and chiming post-punk guitars, Willett -- whose high tenor sounds a little like Jack White's -- spins tales that wouldn't seem out of place in a Flannery O'Connor collection."
Rolling Stone (p.106) - Ranked #30 in Rolling Stone's "The Top 50 Albums Of 2006" -- "Seventies-style rock with a dash of Southern gothic."
Spin (p.56) - Ranked #40 in Spin's "The 40 Best Albums of 2006" -- "[Their] marching-band percussion built to such a fervor they'd bang on whatever was around."
Entertainment Weekly (p.81) - "[T]his California quartet matches shaggy underground rock with an urgent soulfulness and a vintage vibe." -- Grade: B+
Uncut (p.91) - 4 stars out of 5 -- "Swampy bass rubs up against spiky post-punk guitar and primitive percussion, while that earthy piano boogie gives Cold War Kids their Springsteen-esque majesty."
Q (Magazine) - Ranked #21 in Q's "The 50 Best Albums Of 2007" -- "An imposing first work from a band that were one of the must-sees of 2007."