December 18, 2006 12:00 PM

Robbers & Cowards
REVIEWED BY CHRIS STRAUSS

CRITIC’S CHOICE

INDIE ROCK

They may hail from the O.C., but there’s no teen drama on the engrossing, energetic debut from this indie-rock quartet. Against throbbing bass lines and shimmering tambourine, singer-pianist Nathan Willett—a former high school English teacher—relates striking stories of grown-up redemption on the death-row parable “Saint John” and “We Used to Vacation,” about an alcoholic dad who seeks a silver lining while he laments the “best recital I had to ruin” and how “I missed my son’s graduation.” Cold War Kids’ frenzied passion comes through on every track, making this one of the most enjoyable listens of 2006.

DOWNLOAD THIS: “Saint John”

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