Long Beach, Calif., band Cold War Kids released their 2006 debut, Robbers & Cowards, to a stream of critics finding rich veins of the Deep South surging through the music. The hype surrounding them, as hype is wont to do, could certainly have backfired. Instead, it propelled them into their sophomore release, Loyalty to Loyalty, a deep, often melancholy, engaging creation.
Loyalty is, in many ways, a study in character development, as in the slow, beautifully bitter "Every Man I Fall For." Vocalist Nathan Willett said after reading Paul Zollo's Songwriters on Songwriting, he took to heart the idea that songwriting should be personal but should offer surprises. Lyrics like "Every man I fall for drinks his coffee black / love and hate are tattooed on knuckles / my name is on his back," allowed him to step outside of the misogynistic world of rock and roll and explore what he calls a "strong sensitivity to how women are talked about."
Willett said that the new album is a "far, far better representation" of who they are as a band than Robbers, adding that some of the songs on Robbers were mixed quickly and weren't as mature as the band would have liked. "It represented who we were in that time," he said. If Loyalty represents who the Cold War Kids are now, they're a quartet of grownups definitely living up to the hype.
Wednesday, Oct. 1, 9 p.m. with Sean Hayes, $10 adv., $12 door, Neurolux, 111 N. 11th St.