It’s time for another ARM blogpost. I felt the need during the past few days, and although I wasn’t really sure what exactly I was gonna examine, I knew it’d have happened quite soon. Well, after some deep back and forth reflections taking into consideration various possibilities (including the new Angels & Airwaves‘s The Dream Walker and Marmozets‘s The Weird and Wonderful), my decision has fallen on the new record of the Californian indie-rock outfit Cold War Kids, called Hold My Home and released last 21st October 2014 under Downtown Records. Now, I realise that this must not sound like the newest of records that have come out recently, but to be fair there’s some kind of a back story to be told with regard to the release date, at least as far as the European mainland is concerned. In fact, before digging into the proper musical part of this ARM, there’s something of a background anecdote that shouldn’t remain unnamed, hopefully so to shine some light onto what I consider a very badly coordinated publication promotion on the part of Cold War Kids’s management.
While the initial release date for Hold My Home was set to be the aforementioned 21st October 2014, outside of the USA and Australia the album hadn’t come out until the beginning of March 2015. So, except from lead single “All This Could Be Yours” – originally released on 15th July 2014 (!) – and following stand alone tracks “First” and “Hot Coals” (incidentally the first three songs in the album’s tracklist), the vast majority of good old folks in the world had to patiently wait until the first days of this month to enjoy Hold My Home in its full length. You may now ask yourselves “Ok, right, all good and interesting: but how did this come about?”. Well, believe me I’ve asked myself that question a million time and I haven’t managed to find a proper answer yet. I’m not kidding, as far as I’m concerned – and I indeed did some research on this over the course of the last months – there’s still no official explanation for this delay of almost five months between the release in the USA/Australia and the rest of the world, neither from the band itself (I’ve asked them various time on Twitter, no answer gotten), nor from the label or the management side. So, as you may deduce, Hold My Home wasn’t necessarily welcomed to the market with the best of the conditions a band could potentially wish for.
However, despite (or maybe precisely because of) this legal/promotional/marketing long-lasting burden that accompanied Cold War Kids’s latest effort, its definitive release triggered a big sense of relief, at least in me. The album, although not being their best one, presents some very fresh sounds that echo unlike anything else around at the moment. Drawn by the initial triple combo of singles, Hold My Home delivers a genuine representation of a honest, direct, and believable indie-pop-rock with loads of piano/keyboards and some retro-vintage ambient feelings. There are some immediate no-gos as well, though: tracks like “Nights & Weekends”, “Flower Drum Song”, and “Harold Bloom” can’t really take off even after repeated listens, and all this appears as something quite unfortunate. Those three tunes definitely not worth the presence in an album otherwise way above average compared to the material out currently, also bearing in mind Cold War Kids’s relatively notorious status in the mainstream music industry. By contrast, the aforementioned opening trio composed by “All This Could Be Yours”, a rather fast-driving crafter indie anthem of modern times, “First”, probably the most poppy and ear-wormy tune on the album (it’s actually quite irresistible), and “Hot Coals”, a more raw and uncomfortable but pleasant reminiscence of early 00’s indie sound-alike, truly give the record a notable twist. These three songs, in addition to the electro-synth dominated “Drive Desperate” and personal favourite (as well as upcoming single, judging by the recently released official video on YouTube) “Hotel Anywhere”, mark a pretty clear quality distinction in the album making the first half absolutely rad and letting the thread lose its way as tracks go on, with the exception made of closing treat “Hear My Baby Call”.
Thus, overall a very decent album that builds up (possibly too) great expectation after listening to its first half and that loses itself along the way from track 6 to 10 (even the title-track isn’t really able to impose itself after time…). Nonetheless, a much appreciable musical statement made by one of the pioneers of modern indie-rock that, as usual, don’t miss one opportunity to experiment and surprise its fans with the album’s artwork too, in my opinion once again amazing (cf. image below). Welcome back Cold War Kids, for this time we’re ready to forgive your delay, but if this is the musical direction you’re intended to undertake, remember not to play with fire for too long.
I’d like to thank you sincerely for taking the time to read this and I hope to feel your interest again next time.
COLD WAR KIDS
“HOLD MY HOME”
2014/2015, DOWNTOWN RECORDS