Cold War Kids hit a few speed bumps in recent years.

The Southern California-based rock act made a splash in the middle of the last decade with its hit single "Hang Me Up To Dry" from the debut album "Robbers & Cowards." But the band's third full-length effort "Mine Is Yours" in 2011 was not well received by critics. Then guitarist Jonnie Russell left the band.

So how did Cold War Kids respond? With a stellar new album, "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts," and a bevy of sold-out dates on its current tour.

"It's great," said lead singer Nathan Willett, speaking by phone from a stop in Omaha, Neb., when asked what all the sold-out shows mean to the band. "We've honestly just always been really fortunate to have a lot of draw to our live show. It's super encouraging, especially after all of the changes we've gone through."

Cold War Kids
Where: 9:30 Club, 815 V St. NW
When: 8 p.m. Thursday
Info: Sold out, though tickets may still be available through resellers; 877-987-6487;

Cold War Kids perform Thursday at the 9:30 Club.

Willett admitted that the critics' responses to "Mine Is Yours" did affect the band.

"You could feel it in the morale," Willett said. "You have your great moments when you're praised for things and you can't believe it too much, so you keep working and want to better yourself. Same goes for the other side, when things go bad."

Willett said that the band wanted to "take a step further" with "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts," which came out Tuesday.

"I think we accomplished a lot of what we set out to do, which was connecting the dots between earlier and later and what's to come," he said.

Recorded in the band's home studio in San Pedro, Calif., "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts" is an ambitious yet focused work. The album utilizes more synthesizers and electronic elements. The title comes from a 1933 Nathanael West novel, "Miss Lonelyhearts."

A big blow to Cold War Kids was the departure of founding member Russell.

"We never sat down to have a conversation about, are we all in this for the next 10 years, is this the end goal to do the best that we can with this band?" Willett said. "It was definitely hard on everybody in their own ways."

However, Cold War Kids recruited Dann Gallucci as guitarist. Gallucci had performed live with the band, and is formerly of Modest Mouse.

Gallucci co-produced "Dear Miss Lonelyhearts," pushing Cold War Kids.

"He caused us to think out of the box a lot about what our sound is and what we can get away with," Willett said.

Gallucci also brought a level of been there, done that experience to the band.

"He knows you just keep working hard and you hope for the best and you want people to get what you're doing, but you don't sit around and think about or talk about it," Willett. "I think that's something we got caught up in before he was around and was able to help with that."