The Kills Get Bigger (But Not Necessarily Cleaner) | Bleader

The Kills Get Bigger (But Not Necessarily Cleaner)



The Kills
  • The Kills
Last month the Kills released Blood Pressures (Domino), their first new album in three years. Singer Alison Mosshart has been busy fronting the Dead Weather and multi-instrumentalist Jamie Hince has been hanging out with fiance Kate Moss, but in 2010 they once again decamped to Benton Harbor, Michigan, to work with engineers Bill Skibbe and Jessica Ruffins at the Key Club.

The new record expands the duo's instrumental palette, with piano and Mellotron fleshing out the arrangements and relatively elaborate vocal harmonies adding depth. At times the Kills replace their usual scuzzy postpunk minimalism with sanguine tunes that veer close to mainstream rock, like the torchy piano ballad "The Last Goodbye" or the plush, Blondie-like "Baby Says"; the drums are bigger and more sonically complex, and Mosshart's voice has never sounded fuller, more controlled, or more dramatic. In the video below Hince says the band wrote the songs on an acoustic guitar this time out—as opposed to building tunes from noises and rhythms—which probably explains the more conventional structures. But Hince's guitar remains gutbucket raw, and he uses it to create noise and texture far more than he does to carve out classic-rock riffs—I enjoy hearing it emerge from these more polished performances. The Kills aren't reinventing the wheel here (they're not really even reinventing their own wheel), but that's not the only way to make a good album.

The Kills headline the Vic on Wednesday night.

photo: Shawn Brackbill

Today's playlist:

Big John Hamilton, How Much Can a Man Take (Sundazed)
Brian Carpenter's Ghost Train Orchestra, Hothouse Stomp: The Music of 1920s Chicago and Harlem (Accurate)
Laurie Anderson, Homeland (Nonesuch)
Michael Jaeger's Kerouac, Outdoors (Intakt)
Huun-Huur-Tu, Ancestors Call (World Village)