The Kills – Blood Pressures

written by: March 31, 2011
Blood Pessures Release Date: April 4, 2011


While participants in the popular music scene have becoming increasingly enamored with a more electronic sound palette, the Kills’ Jamie Hince, aka “Hotel,” has kept his muscular guitar and drum attack in fighting shape since the duo, comprised of Hince and singer Alison Mosshart, aka “VV,” released their last album, 2008’s No Wow.

Mosshart has been busy singing in blues-rock supergroup The Dead Weather, but now the Kills have returned with Blood Pressures. This offering features a bigger sound than the pared-down No Wow, as Hince supports his partner’s alluring voice with a snarling, bristle-backed beast of a guitar sound and broad-shouldered drumming.

Critics as well as the average listener will likely compare her hard-edged style to that of indie-rock iconoclast Karen O. But this rather uninspired connection arises often in too many discussions involving female rock vocalists, and it would only undermine Mosshart’s talents. Unlike the Yeah Yeah Yeahs singer, Mosshart can truly, consistently sing, instead of simply relying on a rousing performance to excite her listeners.

Whether she approaches a line with restraint or digs into it with an emotive croon, Mosshart sounds acutely mindful of her voice on each track.

Her singing seems more refined than ever on Blood Pressures, but it hasn’t lost a bit of its seductive glimmer. In fact, her voice sounds richer, fuller. She’s even allowed a chance to display a softer quality on the gorgeous “The Last Goodbye.” As on past Kills albums, many of the songs on Blood Pressures incorporate an engaging vocal interplay between Mosshart and Hince. Here, Hince’s voice mostly lies under Mosshart’s, as the focus shifts largely to Mosshart’s strengthened singing.

The album is smartly structured. Blood Pressures comes in roaring like the proverbial lion and saunters out at the close like the same lion just stuffed itself with a gazelle.

In between is a collection of relentlessly catchy, tightly crafted rock tunes that are often disarmingly affecting. One could easily pair Mosshart’s hair-raising chant at the end of “DNA” with her simmering performance on “Damned If She Do,” or the more direct poignancy heard on the previously mentioned “Last Goodbye.” Even though the uncharacteristically brief “Wild Charms,” which features a solo vocal turn from Hince, could be seen as filler, it instead acts as a fine bridge between the upbeat “Nail in My Coffin” and the slow burning “DNA.”

Simply put, the pair has a mind for the waning concept of the “album” as a whole, a cohesive listening experience from beginning to end. All of the songs integrate repetition, but at less than five minutes long each, none of them outlast their effectiveness.

The Kills – Blood Pressures Tracklist:

  1. “Future Starts Slow”
  2. “Satellite”
  3. “Heart Is a Beating Drum”
  4. “Nail in My Coffin”
  5. “Wild Charms”
  6. “DNA”
  7. “Baby Says”
  8. “The Last Goodbye”
  9. “Damned If She Do”
  10. “Pots and Pans”