Album Review: The Kills – Blood Pressures (Domino)

Away from the tabloid gaze, the duo focus on the scuzzy blues-rock day jobs they need to show they do best

Remember when [a]The Kills[/a] used to refer to themselves as ‘VV’ and ‘Hotel’? Hi, nice to meet you, what’s your name? “Hotel.” What? “Hotel.” Shut up. “Sorry. It’s Jamie. And this is Alison.” Seems like a long time ago. Indeed, it has been a long journey for [a]The Kills[/a] – eight years since their blues-rock scuzz-debut ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’ came out.

Everything seems to have changed: the daily tabloid pap-attacks that come with being engaged to the second most famous Kate in England; the map-straddling ride that comes with singing for Jack White in The Dead Weather because he’s too busy dicking around on the drums. Yes, everything has changed, aside from the kind of music Hince and Mosshart end up making when the air miles run out and they actually end up back in a room together.

Still, having outlasted the blues rock revival that gave them their post-[a]White Stripes[/a] break and carved their own dirty, druggy, guitar-dragging identity, [a]The Kills[/a]’ sound is now more enjoyably familiar than tiredly over-played. They really are starting to own that slashed-amp guitar lurch – the kind that here lends ‘Satellite’ its rusty robot shudder, and the one burrowed into the pulse-judder of ‘Nail In My Coffin’, with its ‘Fix Up Look Sharp’-derived echo-snare smash courtesy of their ever-present drum machine.

It’s business as usual on the whole. And while brief moments of ‘Blood Pressures’ see Jamie and Alison attempt to flutter out of their basement-rock pigeonhole with a few Jamie-sung, Lennon-y moments such as ‘Wild Charms’, these simply demonstrate how the pair don’t really click doing anything other than dark-eyed, ripped-tights-over-the-mic leather-rock. You could argue that The Kills show an admirable work ethic by bothering to make this album at all – with Jamie clearly now not in need of mid-table festival slot paydays and Alison achieving a status as [a]Dead Weather[/a] frontwoman that far surpasses the public profile of ‘VV’. But the reality must be that being [a]The Kills[/a] is more vital than ever for them.

For Jamie, to continue to make a mockery of those who simply know him as the craggy-faced bloke who falls out of cabs with Croydon’s fittest girl. For Alison, to remind people that she’s not just that girl with the hedge-backwards hair and the leather trousers that hangs around with Kate Moss’ boyfriend. So vital, in fact, that you might say [a]The Kills[/a] making another really good ‘The Kills’ album might serve a drastically greater purpose for the two players than it will for anyone who actually buys ‘Blood Pressures’.

Jamie Fullerton

Order a copy of The Kills’ ‘Blood Pressures’ from Amazon

The Kills streaming new album ‘Blood Pressures’ online