Album Review — 30 March 2011

By shelz.

The Kills have always packed an icy brand of cool in their repertoire.  It’s exclusive afterhours club music, full of attitude and bewitchery; made for folks who never smile and smoke cigarettes all day.  Even though the sonic styling shifts from album to album, the unruffled core remains generally the same. That does not change on their latest release, Blood Pressures.  It’s been a few years, but the duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince simmer without boiling over on tightly wound tracks that evoke the dark cloud twisted love can produce.

The heart-stirring thump of “Future Starts Slow” sets the tone as it invites a dotting of guitar that morphs into a chain saw slice fit for Mosshart’s defiant lyrics. He can act an ass all he wants; she’s just not ready to walk away.  Sounds like a license to ill for her significant other and Mosshart agrees she will take it any way she can get it. “Satellite” starts with what sounds like an air ratchet, tightening up the anxiety on the churning, reggae-like piece with stabbing, distorted guitars and forlorn lyrics about losing touch.  The pensive feel is backed up by the wails on the chorus.

“Heart Is a Beating Drum” sounds like it was run past a fun house mirror with some elements magnified while others are muted.  There are claps on top of riffs on top of odd digital additions.  The song is coarsely textured to provide a great foundation for Mosshart’s most energetic delivery of the album.

The dark, soupy foundation for “Nail In My Coffin” is great garage fodder but the “Oh” excess gets a bit tedious and leads to the oddly placed “Wild Charms.” It’s the only song that features Hince as the lead vocalist and does this weird 60’s pop thing that’s more confusing than bad.

“DNA” brings that album back into focus with another load of “Oh’s” but some really fancy guitar work from Hince that proves you don’t have to shred until your fingers bleed to put on a good show.  The tale of missed chances and emotional insolence is delivered by Mosshart in a no-nonsense manner. That’s diametrically opposed to the somber dreaminess of “Baby Says,” with its contrived, distorted vibrations and some real feeling from Miss Mosshart. The emotional assault continues with “The Last Goodbye” a part country/part pop, rustic, heart-string tugger that could easily soundtrack the time when boy leaves girl.

The tail end of Blood Pressures finds Mosshart vamping it up for “Damned If She Do,” a story about the one way path of a woman who seems to like life hard.  The odd jolt from the verse into the chorus is awkward, but unfortunately, it’s the most interesting part of the track. “You Don’t Own The Road” is a tail-feather wagging chastisement of a man whose self importance is getting out of hand.  Hince thrashes about in one of the louder performances.  The end is abrupt, but this rocks and rocks well. The closer, “Pots and Pans” is a sublime roots piece that stomps from beginning to end with an acoustic sound as heavy as all the electric Hince could muster on the previous 10 tracks. Well, that’s until the song climbs past the verses and the electric guitar carves out a jagged ending.  Nice.

Blood Pressures is way cool and wonderfully composed.  It’s sexy and smart, restrained and adventurous, and more sundry then their previous work.  That’s fine though.  The evolution continues and The Kills work sonic wistfulness better than almost anyone.

Future Starts Slow

black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-up black-thumbs-upblack-thumbs-up Out of 5

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