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The Kills Blood Pressures Review

Album. Released 2011.  

BBC Review

At its best, album four matches the duo’s darkly seductive early material.

Lou Thomas 2011

Four albums in for the other deliciously-frayed, minimal garage rock two-piece comprising one man and one woman, and guess what? It’s a Steve Reich covers album interpreted entirely on piccolo and flugelhorn.

Fans of The Kills will have spotted the mendacity of the previous sentence and probably (rightly) guessed that Blood Pressures is another solid album of fundamentalist, primal noise. Throughout Jamie Hince plays his guitar like a framed prisoner scratching his last angry wishes on a cell wall, while Alison Mosshart sings with the conviction and menace of a lying politician.

Where sorely-missed Detroit heroes The White Stripes had rabid but often bluesy moments in their cheap, thrilling canon, The Kills have always been dark and vicious, snarling punks with drum machines and lit cigarettes flicked into your hair. At its best, material on this album matches the seductive, shop-soiled greasiness of early tracks like Fried My Little Brains, from 2003. Future Starts Slow is marvellous. "You can holler, you can wail / You can swing, you can flail," Hince and Mosshart tell us, like they don’t care if they receive the ransom money or not. Satellite, the single spat out online pre-release, offers evidence of Mosshart’s stint in The Dead Weather. When she sings the central refrain, "Operator, operator, dial me back / Operator, put me through," it’s easy to imagine Jack White nodding in approval while an ace, syncopated Hince riff grinds away.

There are surprises on Blood Pressures. The Last Goodbye has the whimsy, reluctance and nostalgia of Sparklehorse circa It’s a Wonderful Life, while album closer Pots and Pans could be a lost Beck track from the One Foot in the Grave days, if the man had been possessed by Tom Waits before recording. It’s this final song which poses the most interesting question on this great, but at times predictable album: what terrific noise could The Kills make on an acoustic album?

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