Cold War Kids live is different than a Cold War Kids record. When the Los Angeles-based band played a sold-out 9:30 Club Thursday night, their sound was unexpectedly colorful. On record, it’s pretty black and white. Since their first album Robbers & Cowards, the Cold War Kids have had a gritty black and white aesthetic that was more Gotham City than Long Beach.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts, their fourth and latest record released at the beginning of the April, steps away from that sound. Their 9:30 appearance showed it. Even though it’s the first tour with former Modest Mouse guitarist Dann Gallucci replacing the band’s original guitarist Jonnie Russell, everything was smooth, less gritty, but that might not be a bad thing. The band played straight through their set, song after song. Bassist Matt Maust ran the show, moving the stage like a front man.
It wasn’t like listening to a Cold War Kids record. It had more harmonies. Instead of instruments layering on top of each other, they all synched instead.
Their latest single “Miracle Mile” is one song that sounds the same live as it does recorded. It still has their signature gritty black and white aesthetic but with some added upbeat Matt & Kim spunk. The song carries the same feeling as the stretch of Wilshire Blvd between Fairfax and Highland it was named after. Miracle Mile is gritty, but a happy gritty. It’s where Biggie was shot and food trucks go to congregate, between LACMA and a 99 Cent store that sells its own brand of beer. The Cold War Kids are still gritty, but maybe they’re just polishing up.