California based rock outfit, Cold War Kids, have been at it for 13 years and have delivered again on their sixth studio album LA Divine. An ode to the city, in the bands’ own words it is “a tribute to Los Angeles and all its strange glory”. Produced by Lars Stalfors (who played keyboards with The Mars Volta and has also worked on the previous two CWK albums), this new release is quite a soulful one consisting of hard piano chord hammering, guitar thrashing and percussion pounding music, all conveyed through unforgiving word bending vocals.
The opening track and first single, Love is Mystical, is a cliché pop-rock tune. Front man, Nathan Willett, stated this about the song, “it’s about supernatural love, looking for inspiration and meaning, surrendering to feeling, love calling out your name and that journey we must go on to find it”. The two other singles, Can We Hang On? and Restless, both are mainstream-sounding with Restless being the first song on the album that actually seems to be about Los Angeles, capturing the uneasy energy of the city’s success-driven residents.
While there is a hint of romance throughout the record, there is also a relevant socio-political side to LA Divine. This is embraced in a subtle way on motivated anthems like Can We Hang On? and Ordinary Idols but it is most clear on the experimental number Wilshire Protest.
Album highlights include No Reason to Run, Can We Hold On? and Ordinary Idols with the original and true sound of CWK, filled with funky echo guitars and singer Nathan Willet’s rich rock voice, bringing across authentic melodies that are introspective for sure. Cold War Kids has delivered a solid album in LA Divine but nothing memorable or a new for the group. They have played it relatively safe again like previous records, with their sound falling in and out of the pop rock and indie genre. This one for the CWK fans.
Review by Rob Lyon