Critics billed Cold War Kids’ 2006 debut, Robbers & Cowards, as “original and timeless” (Los Angeles Times) and “`an` enjoyable listen” (People). I hated it. Not because it lacked musical scope — far from it — but because frontman Nathan Willett’s high-pitched whining made it near impossible for me to get through the album in one listen.
Sadly, the California quartet’s follow-up is much the same as Robbers – brilliant, beautifully infused keyboards, drum beats, and guitar riffs marred by Willett’s acquired-taste voice. When Willett drops the theatrics for more conventional vocals – as is the case with standout tracks “Golden Gate Jumpers,” “Dreams Old Men Dream,” and “I’ve Seen Enough” – Loyalty to Loyalty is a listen to behold. But when he eschews a tolerable pitch in favor of his preferred near-yelp, musically redeemable tracks like “Avalanche in B” and “Mexican Dogs” can’t reach their full potential.