Release Date: Apr 5, 2011
Record label: Domino
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock
Click to listen to The Kills' Blood Pressures Boys, boys — no need to fight! There's plenty of Alison Mosshart to go around! After teaming up with Jack White to form the Dead Weather, and making two superbly raunchy blues-hound records in two years, Mosshart brings it on home to her original guitar mate Jamie Hince to reunite the Kills. Mosshart always sings like she can't wait for the song to end so she can bury a machete deep in the scalp of her latest doomed lover — but something about her brings out the beast in her guitar dudes. The chemistry between Mosshart and Hince must be more intense than ever, because their fourth album is also their finest.
If anyone ever ended up at a Kills show without knowing the band (Jamie Hince and Allison Mosshart) they’d be confused. They’d be rapt by a raw, visceral sound, one that sends you searching through a thesaurus for more adjectives to describe its point-blank shotgun force, and they’d be confused. They’d be stuck on the same question one can’t help but ask during any listen to The Kills fourth record, Blood Pressure: “How do two people make such a big sound?” The record opens with the tom-friendly “Future Starts Slow,” deep guitar laying down a question to be answered by higher strums, much in the same way Hince’s guitars volley off Mosshart’s voice on previous records.
Review Summary: Killin' it.It’s a tired truism to get back to what’s comfortable when life gets a bit too hectic, but the Kills’ Blood Pressures is that steadfast example that proves a cliché can still be useful. The duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have had enough distractions over the course of the past few years that one could tell it was starting to affect their work – 2008’s Midnight Boom was certainly enjoyable, but its pop leanings and introduction of synths strayed from what the two did best. Mosshart seemed more focused on her work in the Dead Weather, and Hince was probably a bit preoccupied with fiancée Kate Moss and the tabloid frenzy that accompanies any Moss move.
It’s sometimes a pain to rehearse a band’s whole career when they have a new album out, but Blood Pressures comes at a crucial enough juncture in the Kills’ brief discography that we can’t really avoid it. The first two records, while good, can be dispensed with fairly quickly. Keep on Your Mean Side and No Wow are solid and occasionally great (especially the latter), but they mostly sound a little cool, a little removed.
The Kills returned three years after making Midnight Boom -- arguably their best album, and certainly their most immediate -- with Blood Pressures, a set of songs that reflected the changes the band went through during that time. Shortly after the duo finished its Midnight Boom touring duties, Alison Mosshart recorded two albums with her high-profile friends in the Dead Weather, and embarked on a world tour for each. While nothing here sounds like a carbon copy of Mosshart's work on Horehound or Sea of Cowards, the experience of making those albums made her an even more seasoned, confident performer.
The Kills? You love them, or you hate them. Either you adore their finger-in-every-goddamn-pie approach, or it gets you like nothing else. However, they represent so much more than some skinny jeaned marmite of the music industry – after all that’s a label we could happily grant to Justin Bieber right now. No, so much more: Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart are very interesting people and as a band they have made three highly consistent albums, the last of which, Midnight Boom is about as guilty pleasure as indie rock can be.
The Kills have, since their 2003 debut album, been pegged for that vaunted “breakthrough” that will launch them from the land of videogame soundtrack placement, brief profiles in the front of Spin, and modest tours into whatever success is beyond that for bands at this point. Though four albums in, the real “breakthrough” would be someone refusing to reference the White Stripes in any story/review/pictorial about the Kills (it ain’t gonna be me). But it’s hard to shake the feeling that the band’s fourth album, Blood Pressures, is the one that will take the Kills to the next level.
From The Black Keys to the Japandroids to Death From Above 1979, bands composed of talented duos were quite the phenomenon of the 2000’s. The Kills came around at the right time, then. Vocalist Allison Mosshart (who also sings for The Dead Weather) and guitarist Jamie Hince slid onto the scene in 2001, and despite comparisons to that other garage-punk boy/girl duo The White Stripes, The Kills managed to take the genre and put their own pop-ish spin on it, seeing them through three critically acclaimed albums.
Since the release of their debut, Keep On Your Mean Side, back in 2003, The Kills have given less than a flinch to passing genres and fads: the girlfriends may get more famous, but the minimal garage blues remains the same. And, once again it looks like they’re taking no prisoners. With Alison being away recording and touring with The Dead Weather for the past two years and Jamie sparring with the paps, the marks the first time the duo has been back in the studio since Midnight Boom.
Remember when [a]The Kills[/a] used to refer to themselves as ‘VV’ and ‘Hotel’? Hi, nice to meet you, what’s your name? “Hotel.” What? “Hotel.” Shut up. “Sorry. It’s Jamie. And this is Alison.” Seems like a long time ago. Indeed, it has been a long journey for [a]The Kills ….
Alison Mosshart has the blues. She and The Kills' other half, guitarist Jamie Hince, have grounded themselves after 2008's Midnight Boom, the impeccably stylized art rock exhibition that was praised as much as it was polarizing. Things here do get manipulated, and the duo is still unabashed in their hyperbolic swagger, but for the most part Blood Pressures reeks of whiskey and sex—a taste that lingers like secondhand smoke.
There's a cute little joke lurking in the background of Alfonso Cuarón's otherwise bleak dystopian thriller Children of Men. The film is set in the year 2027, and at one point a deejay overheard on a car radio introduces "a blast from the past all the way back to 2003," before spinning the Kills' country-blues serenade "Wait". Even if 2003 was only eight years ago, for the Kills, it might as well be 24, given how far Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been able to push the limited parameters of their guitar/drum-machine set-up and develop an identity increasingly distinct from their formative junior-Royal-Trux roots.
THE KILLS play Sound Academy May 1. See listing. Rating: NNN It's been three years since the last Kills album, a time span singer Alison Mosshart filled by moonlighting in the Dead Weather and guitarist Jamie Hince spent in tabloid land with supermodel fiancée Kate Moss. Returning for Blood Pressures, the duo prove they haven't lost any of their chemistry.
The Kills continue to amaze with Blood Pressures, their fourth album and another mostly successful attempt to wrench effective material from a barebones method of hollow attitude and instrumental minimalism. Perpetuating a high-wire act that essentially involves a small bag of tricks shaken up a little differently each time, the Kills write songs that are invariably concave structures, spacious echo chambers for lurching, fuzzed-out guitar and softly staccato talk-singing. They’re the kind of songs that start to wear on the nerves after a second listen, only to reveal themselves as not as complex but somehow still captivating after a little more attention.
The Kills spend more time on the gossip pages than the music pages these days, courtesy of James Hince's relationship with Kate Moss. Their fourth album may not change that, but finds them turbo-charging their sound, the familiar primeval bluesy rock combined with bigger grooves and almost Burundi-type drumming. This shift is most effective on Future Starts Slow and Nail in My Coffin, which drip post-punk guitar riffs and pure malevolence.
After vocalist Alison Mosshart’s semi-defection to The Dead Weather and the threat of Jamie Hince’s dissolution into the fashion world with fiancée Kate Moss, some feared we’d never see another album from The Kills. It’s been a cold three years since 2008’s garage-synthy third album Midnight Bloom, but their new effort Blood Pressures is more than worth the wait. Expansive and rich, with grinding girl-on-boy vocals with massive drums and a vintage sheen slipping into sludgy classic rock tributes and distorted guitar riffs, this is without a doubt their most mature album to date.
At its best, album four matches the duo’s darkly seductive early material. Lou Thomas 2011 Four albums in for the other deliciously-frayed, minimal garage rock two-piece comprising one man and one woman, and guess what? It’s a Steve Reich covers album interpreted entirely on piccolo and flugelhorn. Fans of The Kills will have spotted the mendacity of the previous sentence and probably (rightly) guessed that Blood Pressures is another solid album of fundamentalist, primal noise.