New Music Review: The Kills; ‘Blood Pressures’ (VIDEO)
With the White Stripes in retirement, you should consider The Kills’ Blood Pressures Allison “VV” Mosshart’s and Jamie “Hotel” Hince’s official bid for two-person, mixed-gender supremacy in the indie world. Sure, it’s not like there are a lot of bands vying for the title, but if anyone can match the Stripes’ danceable lunacy and morbidity, it’s these two.
On their albums Keep Your Mean Side, No Wow and Midnight Boom, Mosshart and Hince fused louche nightclub-rock grungy fuzz, setting sparse, minimalist songs over a drum machine and landing somewhere between Franz Ferdinand and Nirvana in the process. They’ve also managed to get some serious mainstream clout and their latest album, Blood Pressures, seems like their bid at a true-blue breakout. There’s nothing here that Top 40 will be rushing to play, but that’s more a comment on Top 40 than the Kills. The record itself is dirty fun, always intriguing if eventually repetitive, and manages to present itself as a crisper continuation of The Kills’ earlier works.
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Like Jack and Meg before them, Mosshart and Hince work well alongside and against each other, switching off leading duties every other track or so and combining harmonies on a few hooks to create a sound that seems much more multilayered than it actually is. Mosshart’s chorus to “Nail in My Coffin’s” sounds like something Meat Loaf would have put on Bat Out of Hell back in the day, and the two’s back-and-forth on opener “Future Starts Slow” suggests an aggro version of the Arcade Fire. They may be only two, but Blood Pressures sounds like something a full band put out; it’s a damn sight better than the heavily-hyped Strokes record, in any case.
As the album progresses on, the gritty-sounding production recalls the best kind of basement bands, and the twosome’s avalanche of fuzz begins to call Led Zeppelin and AC/DC at their bluesiest (witness the opening riffs of “DNA” and “Damned If You Do”). Closer “Pots and Pans,” on the other hand, seems to segway into a grunged-out country ballad.
If some of this stuff sounds better in concept than it does in execution, it’s tough to fault The Kills too much for it. The record is adventurous and fun, and on top of it all, “Future Starts Slow” is actually good enough it could get some legs if the right radio station got ahold of it. Call it their “Seven Nation Army” moment, and mean it derisively if you must. Given the general indie mindset, such a hit would probably make Mosshart and Hince sellouts. But that doesn’t make their band any less good.
WATCH: The Kills; “Future Starts Slow” (live):
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