Mine Is Yours by Cold War Kids (Interscope, 2011. 44 minutes)

Based in Long Beach, California, Cold War Kids is an American indie rock band featuring Nathan Willett, Jonnie Russel, Matt Maust, and Matt Aveiro. Formed in 2004 at Biola University, the band released its first EPs in 2005. After signing with Downtown Records in 2006, Cold War Kids released Robbers & Cowards to critical acclaim. Mine Is Yours, the band’s latest effort was released on Interscope Records in 2011.

Made for the Radio

In Cold War Kids’ latest release, Mine Is Yours, a gritty, blues-based indie sound is replaced with catchy and accessible tunes. Employing Jacquire King (he has worked previously with Kings of Leon, Tom Waits, and Modest Mouse) as the producer, Mine Is Yours resembles Only by the Night by Kings of Leon through, vocally-focused mixes, energetic percussion and straightforward instrumentation.
On the whole, Mine Is Yours offers an enjoyable listen, yet I can’t help but feel like the production neutered the presentation, hoping to trade artistic integrity for stadium shows.
In their highly-praised debut, Cold War Kids mixed clean guitar riffs with wailing vocals and metronomic beats. Mine Is Yours, on the other hand, focuses on catchy melodies at the expense of interesting instrumentation and lyricism.

This Song Is about Me! (If Only there Were a Sarcasm Font)

In particular, the lyrics on this album succeed in conveying certain emotions without ever telling a story.  “Finally Begin,” for example, contains a catchy chorus proclaiming,

“Finally open my arms wide / Finally I let you inside / Finally made it past the end / To finally begin.”

Although these lyrics succeed insofar as they provide words for fans to sing, the actual content seems almost irrelevant. In some way, the singer is now open to a relationship. Great – I’m glad he made that choice. I’d like more depth, please.

Yet, It’s a Good Record

Despite my criticisms, Mine Is Yours is not the train wreck it may seem to be from this review.
On top of the pristine-yet-neutered production values presented on the record, the songs offer an enjoyable listen. The reverb-soaked guitars supply depth and despite some weak lyrics, the record has some excellent songs.
Photo by Lee Gwyn
First single, “Louder than Ever” is eminently singable, danceable, and turn-to-eleven-able; the slow-grooving “Sensitive Kid” resembles classic Cold War Kids’ tunes paying homage to what made the band an intriguing newcomer in 2006; and “Cold Toes on the Cold Floor” provides a modern-spin to the most rootsy Tom Waits tunes.

Therefore

In all, Mines Is Yours is an enjoyable but flawed album. By focusing on a stadium sound and unoffensive lyrics, Cold War Kids’ latest product feels tame. Nevertheless, the catchy tunes, rootsy sounds, and solid production values make this album an enjoyable addition to the collection. If you can stomach some meaningless lyrics, I recommend Mine Is Yours.

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