Having shaped their sound and imagery with three EPs for Monarchy Music and a demanding touring schedule, it's no surprise that Cold War Kids have more presence on their first full-length, Robbers & Cowards, than many bands do on their debut albums. Their evocative, oddly soulful vignettes contain shades of Spoon's sardonic, piano-driven rock; the insistent, jittery feel of One Time Bells-era French Kicks; the poetic, rumpled ramblings of the Walkmen; the stripped-down bluesiness of the White Stripes; and in their more theatrical moments, a ghostly trace of Jeff Buckley, as well as touches of folk and gospel. That's not to say that Cold War Kids are derivative -- it's more like they take inspiration in classic sounds (indie or otherwise) and tweak them to their own designs. And even if there's more comforting, built-in familiarity with a touch of freshness in their music than radical originality, there's something to be said for familiarity, especially when it's done this well. For fans of the band's EPs, Robbers & Cowards will sound familiar for another reason: it takes most of its songs from Up in Rags and With Our Wallets Full, giving them a slightly fuller, cleaner sound. Fortunately, this only enhances the band's most distinctive assets: Nathan Willett's high-pitched, nasal, vibrato-heavy voice, a love it or hate it instrument that gives Cold War Kids a huge part of their character, and their way with storytelling and lyrics with a bookish eye and ear for detail. "We Used to Vacation," a dry-eyed account of alcoholism's effect on a family, and "Passing the Hat," a tale of stealing from the collection plate at church that sounds like it could be from an indie rock musical about the Great Depression, combine both to great effect, but it's the genuine warmth in "Hospital Beds" that makes it the finest moment on an exciting, accomplished debut album.