The Kills Keep On Your Mean Side

Sure, they’re influenced by blues basics and garage punk. Yes, they’re a co-ed hipster couple with an ambiguous relationship. And yeah, they even released this debut full length "coincidentally” on the same day as the White Stripe’s Elephant. But that’s where the similarities stop. Most obviously, VV (Alison Mosshart) and Hotel have a drum machine pounding out their beats for them, (not a laconic, busty Loretta Lynn worshipper), and their subject matter deals less with juvenile insecurities and puppy love. If touchstones must be pinpointed in describing this refreshingly unique duo, you could recall Royal Trux, or the Cramps without the country swamp monster campiness. Also, parallels to fellow blues postmodernist PJ Harvey are apt, both vocally (you swear you’re hearing early Polly Jean on opening track "Superstition”) and ideologically; both artists present stripped down, raw emotions, which, through such open, honest vulnerability, creates an atmosphere of bravery and fierceness. The Kills rock’n’roll is simple, sexy, sultry, and snarling. It’s also dark, dirty, and intense, so moments of respite are welcome on mellowed-out tracks like "Wait,” "Monkey 23,” and closer "Gypsy, Death, and You.” The latter is an especially gorgeous number and a nice surprise after all the raunch — a sincerely bittersweet brief moment of being stuck in a room with just VV, a guitar, some melancholy, and a melody. You won’t find any colour-coded conceptualism here, no pop construction — simply two people in an artistically symbiotic relationship that mirrors their personal one, the emotions that flow from them, and the resulting sonic boom. (Rough Trade)