The Kills | Blood Pressures
Most Likely To: make you want to don leather and bathe in cigarette smoke.
Be warned: The Kills are back in town, so prepare to have your ears drowned in hellfire, pure malice, and sexual energy.
Situated somewhere between the raw adrenaline fueled southern blues rock of their debut album and the more radio friendly and melodic Midnight Boom, The Kills’ latest album infuses their bold swagger with a sophisticated edge. Showing incredible growth, Blood Pressures exhibits the band’s increasingly complex and textured sound. No longer just malevolence and brashness, the band deftly manipulates our emotions by vacillating between slow boiling sensuousness and wicked guitar driven snarls, even managing to infuse it all with tinges of nostalgia and wistful longing.
It’s amazing what The Kills have been able to generate with just a guy, a gal, a guitar, and a drum machine, but their latest album brings it to another level. Guitarist and producer Jaime Hince pulls out all the stops in creating grinding, pulse pounding, foot stomping beats and loops. In an interview, Hince explained that he meticulously sampled every type of drum in a school band room and spent hours in the studio until every beat was absolutely perfect.
In addition, Hince’s characteristic savage guitar playing has been subdued a bit to showcase Allison Mosshart’s increasingly emotionally aware vocals. For instance, on “DNA,” Hince sets the mood nicely with a straightforward yet aggressive guitar line before pulling back to let Mosshart’s vocals take center stage. While Hince’s vicious style may seem a bit more restrained than in the past, he still displays plenty of braggadocio and can bristle with power when the time calls for it.
Having spent time touring with Jack White and The Dead Weather, it seems that Mosshart has gained an increased ability to use her already powerful voice as an instrument to explore an array of intimate feelings ranging from pensive, nostalgic, and bitterness.
As a whole, Blood Pressures maintains the moody and pulsating feel of previous albums with dark lyrics like “She come alive when she dying / She come alive when she on her last legs,” “You can swing, you can flail / You can fuck like a broken sail / But I’ll never give you up”, and “Baby says there’s death in these silver curls / Break up and jailed / Send you diving for pearls.”
In particular, “Baby Says” stands out as evidence of the band’s expressive new sound. Opening with a Gimme Shelter-esque riff, the track is more melodic and lovesick than anything I’ve heard from The Kills to date. Instead of bludgeoning you with his abundant talent, Hince chooses to quietly display it with a smooth perpetually rolling riff that ebbs and flows perfectly with the essence of the song. Meanwhile, Mosshart’s vocals are breathier and more passionate than ever as she coos wistfully over a steady driving beat. Other songs that deserve repeated listens include the smoldering sexuality of “DNA,” the hypnotic “Heart Is A Beating Drum,” and the southern twang of “Pots and Pans.”
Tightly orchestrated and less free-flowing than their first two albums, Blood Pressures is a welcome addition to The Kills’ ever expanding repertoire. Those yearning for the band’s characteristic full throttle energy can still find it in abundance throughout the album, while those interested in listening to the band’s sonic explorations will have plenty to keep them occupied. Regardless of any changes in their sound, The Kills are still 100 percent moody and dominant blues rock at its best.
Watch the video for “Satellite” by The Kills: