After the release of the thoroughly disappointing 2011 album ‘Mine is Yours’ and a subsequent two-year hiatus, Cold War Kids have finally returned with the release of their fourth studio album ‘Dear Miss Lonelyhearts.’ When the group debuted in 2004 it mesmerized fans with powerful, yet fun singles like “Hang Me Up to Dry” and “Hospital Beds,” but efforts by the band since then have certainly tapered off. Fortunately, ‘Dear Miss Lonelyhearts’ — bar a few tracks that seem longer than the Cold War itself — helps build hope for what I had deemed to be a lost cause.
“Miracle Mile,” the album’s first single, helped to create both commercial and critical anticipation for Cold War Kids’ new release. Although the quartet struggled to gain any sort of critical appeal with their last album, this new upbeat single has risen to number 37 on the U.S. Alternative Billboard charts.
Although “Miracle Mile” may push beyond ‘Mine is Yours,’ the new song “Tuxedos” looks further back — thankfully, much further back. Almost reminiscent Otis Redding’s version of “A Change is Gonna Come” with a little less soul, the old-school sound of “Tuxedos” is refreshing.
Sadly, however, a select few tracks degenerate into the foursome’s bad habits. “Bottled Affection” and “Loner Phase” both attempt an electro-rock fusion that didn’t work well on ‘Mine Is Yours’ and doesn’t sound any better this go-round. In an age of mass dubstep appeal, rock should stay rock.
But even some of the album’s less electronically charged tracks fall a bit short. “Bitter Poem,” for instance, stays true to its title and leaves listeners feeling bitter, as lines about “watching umbrellas wash away in the rain” turn a fun band into a troupe of melodramatic whiners. And when the weaker tracks aren’t overdramatic, they’re frustratingly shallow. “Lost That Easy” is a notable loser, despite its admittedly charming chorus. If all you can say about a song is the chorus is kind of catchy then it’s probably not worth listening to.
With only a couple redeeming songs that appeal to a more classic Cold War Kids sound, the latest from the band doesn’t satisfy. Still, the possibility of another “Hang Me Up to Dry”-esque standard is not totally lost. Maybe it’ll come the next time around — we’ll only have to wait out their next two-year hiatus to find out.