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
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)