Cold War Kids
Indie rockers Cold War Kids have released their first album in three years, titled L.A. Divine. Inspired by the band’s hometown of Los Angeles, this fourteen track record is their first release for Capitol Records.
“Love is Mystical” is the lead single, and it immediately reminds us of how desperately we’ve been waiting for a new album. With catchy guitar riffs and its upbeat sound, “Love is Mystical” seems to set the anthemic tone we are used to with CWK. “It’s about supernatural love,” Nathan Willett explains, “looking for inspiration and meaning, surrendering to feeling, love calling out your name and that journey we must go on to find it.” A perfect single and lead off song, “Love is Mystical”, draws in listeners, as we immediately see ourselves in the lyrics. How often are we unsure and second guess our relationships? How easy is it to feel secure and uneasy at the same time in what we think might be our most perfect relationship? This song puts our innermost thoughts and insecurities on the table right from the start: “Love is mystical/ Love will break the chains/ You might feel invincible/ And you might be afraid/ Light in darkness will show you the way/ Give you the power to believe again.”
Love is a consistent theme throughout the album, but not in the mournful “I’m always losing the ones I love” cliché that so many heartbreak albums possess. Where most songs and records about love are filled with slower ballads, L.A. Divine begins with the Kids classic steady beat, with lyrics not likely to leave your head for days. Continuing that upbeat feel, L.A. Divine is more of a love song, not only to a region that means so much to the band, but also about how life, living through the ups and downs of long-term personal relationships.
While there are many similarities to previous records, L.A. Divine isn’t the same as previous Cold War Kids albums. Things begin to change in the third track, “So Tied Up”, with the addition of Bishop Briggs’ soulful vocals. This gospel explores the relationship between two people mainly out for themselves. Stereotypical of L.A? Perhaps, but there is nothing cloying about the song or lyrics.
Next up is “LA River” where listeners will notice the biggest change – this is the first of three songs that aren’t completely polished songs – they are more like quick one-minute bits of songs. “L.A.’s so massive, I feel like I’m always finding something new in it,” says bassist Matt Maust. “It’s an incredibly weird place, and I’m happy to have made a record that totally honors that weirdness.”
If you have spent years in L.A., you will see yourself in “Wilshire Protest” as most likely you, like me, have attended one. This is the only time L.A. Divine gets political, with a stream of thoughts in the lyrics regarding America under Donald Trump. Capturing a feeling that connects most Angelenos and visitors alike, this song once again unites the city, as the lyrics capture what we most often feel and have said to one another, “We are separated by/Steel and glass/In traffic trapped on the freeway/everybody is a DJ.”
L.A. Divine is Cold War Kids’ best album to date in my opinion. The songwriting has been elevated to a deeper level and the sense of hope comes at the time we as a country could most use it as we cling to music to give us a break from the bleakness.
Currently on tour throughout the UK and US, if you have the chance to see Cold War Kids, I urge you to take the opportunity!
SPILL ALBUM REVIEW: COLD WAR KIDS – L.A. DIVINE