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A band with survival skills

Its vintage musical touches framing an au courant mind set, Cold War Kids builds on its early Web buzz.

September 22, 2008|August Brown | Times Staff Writer

The latter track might have come about through a bit of cryptomnesia relating to the heat that Cold War Kids took for their Christian backgrounds as they pivoted from local breakouts to national act. Three-quarters of the band attended Biola, the Bible Institute of Los Angeles, an evangelical college in La Mirada, and while the band's take on faith is decidedly progressive and activist -- the group played a show at the Democratic National Convention this year -- some fervently negative reviews and consistent faith-based ragging from the website Pitchfork Media was a sort of mosquito in their ears.

"That became people's first impression of us, which was totally lame," Willett said. "But any time you can polarize people, you're doing something important." It would be a rare Christian band, indeed, that would cover its second album with a black-and-white photo of a skeleton leering out a car window. But for Maust, who designs the band's albums and held a show of his art at Silver Lake’s Found Gallery in March, the Cold War Kids' art is part of a dark, rich vision of the world built on healthy skepticism, even of the band's loyalties.

"I'm really glad we all got to play the DNC and see [Barack Obama's] speech," he said. "We all support Obama, but seeing his face everywhere was kind of creepy. People thought he was Jesus at the convention, and it was kind of sobering."

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august.brown@latimes.com

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