In My Ears- Cold War Kids


By Lauren MillerAutosave-File vom d-lab2/3 der AgfaPhoto GmbH
Online Associate Editor-In-Chief
Favorite Song: Miracle Mile
Vibe: disjointed beat and introspective indie rock
Similar to: (El Camino and Brothers-esk) The Black Keys and Local Natives
Listening to the Cold War Kids is kind of like looking at modern art. Modern art is weird and awesome, but it isn’t beautiful; it doesn’t make you happy, just like Cold War Kids. It makes you feel something: something awe-inspiring and haunting. Unlike the common surfacely pleasing pop music provides, Cold War Kids urges you to feel something more. You become acutely aware that you are missing something essential in your life, but what that is exactly that is, is the question.
A reason that Cold War Kids are so powerful is because we see the bad and missing parts of ourselves in their lyrics. Their songs reflect their own introspective struggles and paint hopeless characters we all can relate to. In “First” lead singer Nathan Willmett tells a familiar story of self-destruction “First you lose trust, then you get worried/ Night after night, bar after club/ Dropping like flies, who woke you up/ On the front lawn, sprinklers turned on/ It’s not your house, where’d you go wrong?” Though we may not be as extreme as the alcoholic he describes we have all found ourselves down a dark road, on in a bad situation wondering “where did I go wrong.”
Even though the songs may not be exactly uplifting, the beat itself is, which is what makes me love them so much. The mix of the harsh reality or hopelessness of it all is usually accompanied by a sappy piano melody and some violins, but Cold War Kids repel against this cliché, putting such messages to an imploring, disjointed rock sound. It is the perfectly contradictory and ironic (aka everything I love).
The awesome, unnatural vibe of their sound works extremely well with Cold War Kids irony. The root of this fascinating vibe lies in Willett’s vocals; his voice has a unique pained, almost whiny rapt to it as he holds a note or syllable. His odd vocals incite a that urge for something more. They also set the disjointed tone the sound has; often the beat between the bass and drums is off or abrupt with occasional bizarre piano riffs thrown in too. This is seen in “Hang Me Up To Dry.” In their strange/philosophical/ironic fashion though, the disconnected beat, Willett’s vocals, and blatant lyrics work in perfect harmony.
The darker and desperate messages of “We Used To Vacation” and “Audience,” is where the initial awareness of our desire and problems surface. Combing for a perfect storm of indie rock and irony the things that we so often push down rise up as we listen to the all too familiar lyrics. The holes in our lives turn out to truly be huge gaps and we crave to fill them. For as depressing as that sounds, it’s necessary. The first step to living fully is realizing that you aren’t and Cold War Kids provide a perfect base to exploit that.
Even for all of their bleak songs, they also have recently come out with a triumph album called Mine Is Yours. In Mine Is Yours Willmett describes the previously hopeless characters now having a breakthrough. These characters are the embodiment what the band is and has gone through, desperation and all. We can hope in his success and see that it is possible for us to, we can find that something were missing, or at least fill the gaps and begin to live fully.