Cold War Kids

Loyalty to Loyalty
(Downtown Records)

Fresh on the heels of 2006's Robbers & Cowards, the debut album that featured the radio darling "Hang Me Out to Dry," Long Beach-based Cold War Kids fight an uphill battle on their sophomore effort. Loyalty to Loyalty chronicles the band's efforts to shake the reputation that their single made for them, a process that yields mixed results. The first half of the album progresses smoothly through songs such as the formulaic first single "Something Is Not Right with Me," while the thumping, tribal drums of "Welcome to the Occupation" provide that distinct sound the band is perhaps going for. But any and all momentum the first half of the album accumulates is absolutely lost on the divine head-scratcher "Avalanche in B." Lead singer Nathan Willet's borderline grating vocals are matched by a marriage of confusing piano and staccato drums. By the time you get to "I've Seen Enough" — how appropriate a title — too much damage is done. The song makes a gallant effort to save the album, but it's gone. That's a shame, because the band's true talent shines throughout the effortless, insanely catchy tune.

 
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