A confession: this review may be a bit impulsive or premature. I had never heard of the Cold War Kids until days ago. I caught the sample of "Hang Me Up to Dry" and instantly recognized it from somewhere. I have no idea where I know the song from, but I absolutely LOVE it. After sampling the rest of the CD I decided it was worth taking a chance. Having had the CD a few days now, the songs are just so darn listenable and catchy they are addictive. I probably will have to pry the CD out of my player soon just to avoid OD'ing on it. The group has a real gift for catchy melodies as evident in the aforementioned tune as well as in "We Used to Vacation" and "St. John." Really the CD is full of immediately catchy hooks and melodies that suck you in and don't let go ("Passing the Hat", etc.). Even if I overdose on them short term, I don't think I could ever hear these tunes without being captivated. They are just that good - instant classics for me. If you like your rock stripped down and raw with an edge, tinged with soul and containing a heaping helping of blues (think White Stripes), "Robbers and Cowards" will hit the spot.
I am shocked (and a little annoyed) by the presumptuous nature of the Amazon review (by Jedd Beaudoin). Perhaps the reviewer actually knows the band personally and can speak to such things, but probably not (I can be presumptuous as well!). The one kernel of truth in his review is that the Cold War Kids do "have quirky-but-catchy [...] songwriting." He nailed it there, but he then presumes to climb into their heads to speak about their motivations and aspirations. He accuses them of being "fascinated with the first Stokes album" and of "trying too hard." He charges them with trying to deliver a "fresh take on life in suburbia" but, failing here, they only deliver "a minor variation of angsty clichés."
Maybe the reviewer is so into the music scene he knows what would motivate himself to produce a similar record. Maybe such an effort on his own behalf would truly be derivative of the Strokes, etc. Maybe his view is jaded by his own experience. Why isn't it possible that these guys are just being true to themselves and the(ir) music? Why can't this music be genuine and heart-felt? Maybe it is others who are preoccupied with image and marketing, not the Cold War Kids themselves. That's what I choose to believe, anyway. I spent some time on their website reading their "journal". I was impressed with what I felt was sincere, genuine, and very humorous.
As far as I'm concerned these guys created a fantastic album that is a representation of who and what they are rather than what they are "trying" to be. I'm blessed to have experienced it. I encourage you to experience it for yourself. Regarding the Amazon reviewer, I suggest he is projecting his own pretentiousness onto the "Kids."