Debut Album from Cities Band, Cold Open, Is Simple, Sweet…but a Little Lukewarm

It’s hard to review an album, in which the songs are just so…nice. You feel bad writing anything negative, but at the same time, as a critic, you’ve got to keep it real. And that, loyal readers, can suck complete ass!
Such is the case with The Cold Open, the Twin Cities-based indie-pop group, and their playful, sweet-natured debut album, Behind the Mattress (The Cold Open; July 24 release; priced around $10) , which the band’s self-titled label generously provided us a copy of.
(In the interest of full disclosure, vocalist and guitarist, Eric Rice, is the better half of TC Jewfolk’s Noshin’ columnist, Sara Rice.)

And to be fair, there’s nothing terribly wrong with that, per se—who doesn’t like an ice cream sundae, now and then?
However, just like any similarly delicious confection, after the first few bites of heaven, it all starts to taste the same; and what was once a beautifully-prepared, aesthetically-pleasing dessert becomes this gloppy mess that becomes tiresome and, at times, sickeningly sweet.
If that was the band’s ultimate goal, they’ve succeeded. In that success, however, they’ve produced an inoffensive, but ultimately bland, first CD.
It all starts out swimmingly, with a fun, soda shop-like, pop ditty, titled “Indian Summer.” With its sunny vocals, about an Indian summer love, and fast-paced guitar-strumming, it’s a fairly irresistible tune. As is the second track, “I’m Not Calling You,” a clever tune about avoiding a former flame’s phone calls, which is funny and energetic.
If there’s one thing the band has going for them, it’s their clever lyrics. I was really impressed with some of the witty one-liners, within the songs themselves. They always seemed to ring true and I found many of the songs’ lyrics to be better than the songs themselves. Whether that makes sense to anyone other than me is anyone’s guess.
Yes, the music itself is just really blah. The hooks are there, alright, but they seem oddly detached from the lyrics. It’s a shame, too, that this is the case, because by making the musical notes completely toothless, shapeless, and, ultimately, perfunctory, the songs themselves seem unnecessary. It’s as if the band wrote the lyrics first and, well, they had to write something!
Otherwise, it would just be poetry, I suppose.
On the upside, the blandness of some of the songs certainly has an upside: They make great ambient, dinner music. It totally blends in with the rest of the chatter.
In fact, I’ll probably place it right next to my John Tesh collection (kidding, folks! Only kidding!).
Yeah, I know.
That may be one of my snarkiest comments yet.
Truth be known, you could do worse by picking up and listening to this album. Then again, you could do a helluva lot better.
I ask you: Which one of those last two comments is the harsher critique?
Ya know what? Let’s just call it a toss-up, shall we?