Christianity And The Cold War Kids Backlash

By now, you not only know of the soul-clapping yelp-rock of Cold War Kids, you even know they met at the Bible Institute of Los Angeles; that’s how far the gospel (pun) of the band has spread. The San Diego CityBEAT’s cover story this week traces the rapid rise of — and backlash against — the band, identifying the vitriolic pressure point (their faith) and the trigger man (Pitchfork). They write (via Cat Dirt Sez):

After revealing their time at [Bible Institute Of Los Angeles], it seemed recognizing Cold War Kids’ talent was secondary to having a loud opinion about them. Worse, they were pigeonholed as a “Christian band.”

It started with the influential, naysaying indie-rock website, Pitchforkmedia.com. The site’s initial blurbs about the Kids were mostly either cheeky or just downright negative. A review of their song “Hospital Beds” proclaimed that Willett’s “pompous delivery makes every song sound like a Jeff Buckley cover band playing a wedding drunk.”

Of their South-by-Southwest performance, Pitchfork reported that “the skinny-jeaned Christians of Cold War Kids staggered around a bit, their singer coming off like an embittered Taylor Hicks.”

Things didn’t change with the review of Robbers & Cowards. Writer Marc Hogan, as if hit by a lightning bolt from the bitter gods of music journalism, interpreted Willett’s lyrics as reverent proclamations. At one point, he even compared them to George W. Bush’s genuflecting speeches.

Although Robbers & Cowards is filled with religious imagery–often sung from the perspective of a fictional character–Willett says context has been completely ignored in such reviews.

“It’s just lazy journalism, where if you don’t like a band, you pick up one thing about them and say, ‘I’m gonna write about this.'”

Guitarist Russell, whose father is in fact an Evangelical preacher, agrees: “That seems to be the agenda; not to have a thoughtful reflection on music but to have a sharp angle and a funny way of saying it.”

Doesn’t seem like the Kids’ Christianity is a legit criticism in this case; just a convenient handle for insult. Or, did Jesus push you off the bandwagon? Does CWK’s devotion get in your way more than Sufjan’s? Jeremy Enigk’s? Also, Matisyahu = total heeb … Gotta a problem with that, Schreiber?