Review by Mary Rehak.
If you’re already a Kills fan, you know the formula: guy, girl, drum machine, raunchy riffs and a dark attitude. For newcomers to the band, their fourth full-length album, Blood Pressures, is more of the same, with a little bit of extra shine.
You may know Alison Mosshart from The Dead Weather, her more mainstream collaboration with Jack White. Jamie Hince, the British half of the Kills, is engaged to supermodel Kate Moss. Both band members hang in some rarefied circles, and with all the distractions in the three years since their previous album, Kills fans were worried that their radio silence was the harbinger of actual musical silence. But very quickly this year, all fears were put to rest with an announcement of the new album’s drop date, quickly followed by tour dates and the steady release of single upon single, each one catchier than the last.
The sound may be the same, but Blood Pressures is still a different creature: Hince takes lead for a quiet, Beatles-influenced segue track; Mosshart wistfully sings a waltz; some of their unhinged grit seems to have been polished away. The hinted-at record label interference with this album might have changed their tone, or maybe this is just the duo heading down a slightly different path. The Kills’ sound was always unrehearsed, rough-edged, with their occasional studio fuck-ups seemingly kept in for character. In 2007’s Midnight Boom, Mosshart’s smoker’s cough before she starts singing “Cheap and Cheerful”; the rambling voicemail playback titled “Hand,” track six of Keep On Your Mean Side. The thrown-together aesthetic went hand-in-hand with a Kills album.
If all the Kills had going for them were those rough charms, Blood Pressures would have flopped. Luckily, they have also never been short of ferocious hooks. The highlights – “Satellite,” “Nail In My Coffin,” “DNA,” Baby Says, Pots and Pans – have insidiously pervasive earworm capabilities. Some of the more ‘filler’ tracks – the aforementioned Beatles-esque “Wild Charms,” in particular – feel pretty thin, but the thing is, this album doesn’t have much filler. Listening all the way through, you can count six or seven of the eleven tracks that will stick in your head for days on end; in the era of singles and individual track purchases, that is something to write home about.
Blood Pressures is a lot more contemplative than previous efforts, which seemed to spit and rage ceaselessly. Maybe it is the extra time they had to work on the album, or label influence, or just the intervening years. Whatever changed, it produced an ominously sleek and sexy album whose appeal, as with their previous efforts, will only grow with time.
Watch the music video for “Satellite” from Blood Pressures below: