Cold War Kids have built their reputation on spiky, loose-limbed music, illuminatingly detailed lyrics and a voice-might-crack-at-any-second singer who could sound simultaneously tender and unhinged. Like their distinctive cover artwork, they left the rough edges in - and played them as a strength. Fans who have grown to love Kids will most likely be disappointed by "Mine Is Yours," the Cali combo's third record, where rough edges and sharp lyrics are scarce. Most others won't bother listening long enough to form much of an opinion.
Thirty seconds in, it's immediately clear there was a producer in the room. Over a U2-ish intro, singer and lyricist Nathan Willett enters with some oh-o whoas, but he sounds reserved, checking himself. The band's spindly swing is glossed over, couched in echo. The melody is pleasant but ordinary. Unfortunately, the track is a harbinger: Over the disc's 45 minutes, Kids rarely do anything distinctive.
Songs such as "Louder Than Ever" and "Finally Begin" - which slide into catchy choruses - and the Vampire Weekend-ish guitar riff that propels "Broken Open" indicate that the goal of working with producer Jacquire King was to craft songs that appeal to a larger audience. No surprise that some of Willett's most bland lyrics populate those tracks. And it isn't a case of subtle nuance, either. After more than 20 plays, only one song - "Cold Toes on the Cold Floor" - demonstrates any grit. "Somehow you manage to keep your sense of humor intact," Willet sings on "Skip the Charades." Cold War Kids fans will be well served to heed that advice while listening to this consistently uninteresting album.
Recommended tracks: "Cold Toes on the Cold Floor," "Skip the Charades"