Under Review: The Kills – Blood Pressures

With The White Stripes officially disbanded, it would seem that now would be an opportune time for The Kills to fill a particular void in today’s music scene. Since forming in the early ‘00s, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been skirting the limelight, mostly outside of their proper group. Mosshart teamed with Jack White for two murky (yet ultimately bland) albums with The Dead Weather, and Hince’s relationship with Kate Moss has lit up the British tabloids. Now that they’re back together, Mosshart and Hince have produced Blood Pressures, the boldest statement yet to come from the primal blues duo. On the surface, Blood Pressures isn’t tremendously different from previous Kills efforts. The sultry sleaze is still piled on, and the come-ons are still intertwined with abrasively lo-fi textures.

Excepting 2008’s Midnight Boom, The Kills’ albums have always been a little light on melody in exchange for being quite heavy on atmosphere and attitude. This time around, though, the songs pack wallops of choruses and hooks. As usual, Mosshart’s voice is one of The Kills’ two prominent instruments. She rattles off verses on “Nail In My Coffin” and both taunts and concedes on “You Don’t Own The Road.” Her vocal interplay with Hince’s restrained baritone makes the wordless refrains on songs like “Satellite” rich and ominous. The duo’s other main trick, Hince’s instrumental production, is as thick and dense as ever. Fractured drum samples mash with gnarled guitar riffs that sound like they’re being churned out through a fax machine. On “DNA” and “Pots And Pans,” Hince uses just about every instrument for its percussive qualities, a technique that gives Blood Pressures an almost violent physicality.

Though they’re poised to become much more popular with this new set of tunes, there’s something about The Kills that will always keep them from becoming too well-known. Whether it’s their stylized presentation or their oozing sexual over- and undertones, Mosshart and Hince are their own success’ worst enemies. Then again, an album as strong as Blood Pressures might capture the attention of those who should’ve been listening to The Kills for years now. Better late than never, all around.

~ by E. on April 13, 2011.

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