The Kills – Blood Pressures

After releasing three albums in three years and touring around the globe for each, you would think Alison Mosshart would want to deserving rest on her laurels. Instead she hooked up with her partner in crime, Jamie Hince, in Michigan and they got to work on The Kills new album, Blood Pressures.

In a career that has seen them consistently evolving their style and sound, it’s a surprise to hear The Kills looking backward at their sound for the first time. Album opener Future Starts Slow begins with a fractured blues riff harkening back to their debut, Keep On Your Mean Side, but as the track progresses it shakes and rattles into one of the albums most infectious choruses on the album, reminiscent of 2008’s poppier effort Midnight Boom.

The biggest influence from their back catalogue though is grooving darkness of their second release No Wow. The electronic drum samples of previous albums have been replaced live drums, recorded, then meticulously chopped and looped, giving the album a warmth that stops you from feeling detached by Blood Pressures’ darkest moments.

Singles, Satellite and DNA, deal in shadows, but Alison Mosshart is luring you into the black with her throaty vocals sitting in the forefront of the mix. The Kills aren’t getting bogged down by the darkness; they are dancing in it and wearing it with pride. There’s no bleak element to the album and, with critical success and pending marriages to supermodels, it would be hard to take them seriously if they were. The album focuses on themes of redemption in Nail In My Coffin and Damned If She Do and wistful longing on Wild Charms.

One of the albums highlights comes, not from looking back, but moving their sound further still. The Last Goodbye is the closest the duo has come to writing a full blown ballad; it’s off kilter piano loop skips and bumps like a warped vinyl in contrast to the cinematic strings that sweep Mosshart’s voice into a western panorama from a classic film. Here The Kills are at their most naked; not hiding behind guitar effects and rock and roll bluster. It is the albums most honest moment, showing a willingness to challenge the sound limitations of a two-piece band and creating touching lyrics without falling prey to melodrama.

Holding the production reigns, Hince has created a layered soundscape that differs from more Spartan previous releases. The Kills have released a record that utilises the best aspects of their back catalogue and aims straight at your hips, without being afraid to take a stab at your heart.