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Album review: Cold War Kids' 'Mine Is Yours'

January 24, 2011 |  6:06 pm

Coldwarkids Alt-rock cleanup jobs rarely come more straightforward than Cold War Kids’ “Mine Is Yours,” on which this Long Beach foursome sands the edges from its clattering soul-punk sound.

Swaggering yet sensitive, it’s a record that appears to have been made firmly in the shadow of Kings of Leon, which after years in the underground finally broke through to the mainstream with 2008’s hit “Only by the Night.” Cold War Kids traveled to Nashville to record “Mine Is Yours” with Kings producer Jacquire King, and he gives songs such as “Broken Open” and “Royal Blue” the same arena-ready sheen; frontman Nathan Willett’s vocal hooks seem designed to be bellowed along with $12 beer in hand.

Longtime fans are apt to be disappointed by the change in direction, which for sure renders the band less unique. Yet the best songs here -- “Finally Begin,” “Louder Than Ever,” the aptly titled “Bulldozer” -- run with the kind of streamlined efficiency that can be just as satisfying as arty idiosyncrasy. Unburdened by their trademark clutter, Willett and his bandmates use that extra energy to push forward.

-- Mikael Wood

Cold War Kids
“Mine Is Yours”
Two and a half stars (out of four)