Now on their fourth album, Anglo-American raggedy rock and roll band The Kills are in danger of becoming famous for everything but their music. Having always been an oddity since the 2003 release of their début album Keep On Your Mean Side due to their lack of a bassist or even a drummer onstage, one would be forgiven for thinking that Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince had forgotten about their primary function – creating filthy garage rock.
Hince now has far more notoriety for being Kate Moss’s fiancé, and Mosshart has been distracted since 2008’s Midnight Boom by her work with Jack White-led supergroup The Dead Weather, releasing two albums and embarking on as many world tours. She has returned to her original band and sounds more confident in her voice than ever, singing more elaborate melodies and unleashing a soulful side to her vocals.
Based upon their previous output, it was always fairly obvious what this album was going to sound like. In short, The Kills have produced more of the same, to a high standard. However, this is precisely what is needed right now – there seems to be a shortage of leather-clad dirty rock and roll stars bursting with confidence and unafraid of making a bit of noise. When The Kills first emerged, The White Stripes were all the rage and the music scene had its share of imitators of the scruffy, fuzzy guitar sound, but now there are very few bands willing to take this mantle.
The first four tracks of this album are all upbeat, jaunty rock-outs as good as anything The Kills have produced before. The opener ‘Future Starts Slow’ is typical Kills; seductive garage rock, with Mosshart chanting in her Floridian tone “You can swing, you can flail/You can fuck like a broken sail”. The album slows down by ‘Wild Charms’, a dreamy piano-led piece featuring Hince on vocals, segueing into ‘DNA’, with its refrain of “We will not be moved by it” acting as a statement of intent, the self-assured veneer of a rock and roll band.
Despite this characteristic confidence, there is a sneaking vulnerability in this record which makes it more charming. ‘Baby Says’ and ‘The Last Goodbye’ sees Mosshart revealing that she actually has human feelings, particularly on the latter, which is a piano ballad with artificially aged strings and lyrics claiming that she “Can’t survive on a half-hearted love that will never be whole”.
For The Kills, this album shows atypical sensitivity, but there is still more than enough of what they do best here – heavy-sounding riffs and bluesy rock. The time apart pursuing other projects has done this band a lot of good, Blood Pressures sounds familiar but fresh.
Good: The Kills show their sensitive side a bit more, but keep their edge
Bad: Kills fans will fear Hince becoming known as the latest fashion accessory of Kate Moss rather than as a musician
8 out of 10