The Kills – Blood Pressures
You can’t help but like The Kills. While most of their contemporaries are busy trying to dream up new and creative ways to record and distribute music- and generally doing their utmost to get noticed – the transatlantic duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince contentedly float under the radar, steadfastly sticking to their lo-fi garage-rock aesthetic. Even with their respective high profile side-projects (Alison as the singer in Jack White’s The Dead Weather and Jamie’s role as Mr Kate Moss), they never go out of their way to court publicity – preferring to maintain their reputation as one of the few mainstream rock acts that actually value their dignity.
Of course, this stubborn refusal to bow to contemporary trends means they risk sounding tired and old hat. Luckily though, The Kills have enough attitude and charisma to make sure every album sounds as fresh and vital as the last – and their fourth album Blood Pressures is no different.
In fact, their dedication to the same formula of grinding guitar hooks and full-on rock-chick posturing actually makes them even more interesting. Yes, it’s nice when bands experiment a bit but sometimes you just want to hear them do what they’re good at. And Blood Pressures has everything that makes The Kills great, as well as a few welcome deviations.
Things get off to a reassuringly Kills-y start with the siren-like guitars and relentlessly grinding tempo of the brilliant album opener ‘Future Starts Slow’, which contains all the snarling, punkish attitude we expect from The Kills. Lead single ‘Satellite’ follows suit – with Hince’s hypnotically dark guitar riffs providing a haunting backdrop for Mosshart’s melodic vocal line.
While most of the album sticks to this distinctive and effective formula, Blood Pressures is not without its surprises. Dreamy Lennon-esque ballad ‘Wild Charms’ punctures the seductive predictability of the garage-rock template, with Hince’s vocals providing a welcome change of pace. Not to be outdone in the balladeering stakes, Mosshart does her best Adele impression on the beautifully fragile and lovelorn ‘The Last Goodbye’, while the shimmering ‘Baby Says’ neatly combines this more emotional and open approach with the brutal efficiency of garage-rock.
As good as these diversions are, Blood Pressures is destined to be viewed as yet another solid and gloriously predictable garage-rock album – which, we expect, is exactly what The Kills intended.