The Kills – ‘Blood Pressures’

(album, Domino Recordings)

The Kills’ first album in three years sees the duo maintain their core garage sound while simultaneously stretching out in new directions. However, there’s nothing that could be seen as a truly radical departure on offer among Blood Pressures’ eleven tracks and this is probably no bad thing considering that the sonic template they established with 2003’s Keep On Your Mean Side remains both distinctive and engaging.

Blood Pressures is a well constructed set, in that some consideration has evidently gone into the structure and running order of the songs presented – many of the tracks segue pleasingly into one another, and the whole disc hangs together as a unified corpus. Opener ‘Future Starts Slow’ contradicts its title by racing expansive vapour trails through a shimmering heat haze of guitar crunch and big beat backing. Mosshart and Hince’s dual vocals implore and allure in equal measure and help to define the sense of retro-futurism that suffuses the album.

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‘Satellite’ crashes in as a churning cabaret of stratospheric bump’n’grind, dismissing the lack of bass guitar by developing a titanic bottom end, which creates a relentless heave-ho supported again by a monumental beat. Hince switches to a kind of ping-pong rhythm that lends the next two songs an ambience of mutated disco. ‘Heart Is A Beating Drum’ revisits the duo’s recurrent lyrical theme of doomed luv, this time framing it in layers of throbbing fuzz to present an effects infused heavy water siren song. Similarly, ‘Nail In My Coffin’ tumbles head-over-heels through splintering floors of relationship ambiguity as a corkscrew groove combines with motorik sonics and white noise squall to create a wholly danceable bittersweet confection.

The tenderly reflective interlude of  ‘Wild Charms’ segues into ‘DNA’, which responds to the preceding number by surrounding Alison Mosshart’s sultry, unattainable vocal in a cloak of subtle melodic distortions that combine to create an insidious low-key slow burn. ‘The wistfully melancholic ‘Baby Says’ advances and twists the bittersweet motif by juxtaposing honeyed vocal lines against a shimmering distorted lead guitar. This creates a lush, cumulative impact that evokes the feeling that the song is being broadcast from some Lynchian fairground at the end of the world.  This feeling of dislocation is furthered by the subsequent ‘The Last Goodbye’, which employs a simple keyboard and strings melody set atop a muted boxcar rhythm to create the ambience of a lost highway torch song, beamed in from some alternate future/past.

The deliberately underpaced classic riffola of ‘Damned If She Do’ maintains the sense of subtle insistence that is intermittently evident throughout Blood Pressures. A nightmare sweetdream, the track creeps slowly through the low gears, agitating its steady progress by means of some jarring rhythm changes. Standout track ‘You Don’t Own The Road’ is pretty much classic Kills – shot through with soiled glamour, the track is by degrees nasty, compulsive, sultry and demanding and features brief soundstorm instrumental breaks. Futures and pasts collide in the valedictory stew of ‘Pots and Pans’, its ominous throb presenting a death march domesticity that builds upon acoustic dexterity to culminate with a reverb laden vertex. Blood Pressures may not win the Kills any kind of new audience, but then they seem to be doing very nicely thank you with the one that they already have – and this’ll do for them.

Originally posted 2011-06-06 08:48:54. Republished by Blog Post Promoter

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