Releasing their first album in 3 years, The Kills return with their eclectic blues-rock with a twist. With several well-received albums behind them the Anglo-American two-piece have built on the foundations of their success, refusing to merely reproduce past glories but delve deeper into their creative yearnings.
Lead single Satellite showcases such intentions, sounding both innovative and fragile in the same beat. It’s heavy bass, drawing from the roots laid down in 2005’s No Wow, sets out a marker for the entire album, with it’s ferocity and relentlessness standing in contrast to the intimacy of Mosshart’s and Hince’s relationship.
Though a return of The Kills was never in doubt, the gap between albums granted the two, who regard their relationship akin to that of brother and sister, to engage in other activities. Most notably Alison took up vocal duties for Jack White’s critically lauded Dead Weather supergroup. Their two ensuing albums (Horehound and Sea Of Cowards) and raft of live dates appears to have served in honing her already razor-sharp voice into the powerhouse that presents itself on Blood Pressures.
Indeed, from the very opening track one is reminded of what has been lacking in their absence, with Future Starts Slow proving a superior fusion of accessible and contemporary blues than anything Mosshart produced with White and co. The use again of a drum machine, something that might prove disparaging in other bands, syncs perfectly with The Kills sound, helping to maintain focus on the two pillars of their strength in Alison’s voice and Jamie’s primal guitar. This lo-fi accessibility, a virtue of knowing that ambition does not merely equate to over complication, marks the album and continues to be one of the band’s enduring features.
Wild Charms grants the listener with a brief respite from the pounding drive of the album’s insatiable start and also provides Jamie with a rare lead vocal outing. Whilst the track proves one of the weaker, indeed its inclusion appears mainly as a gateway to a softer second half of song writing, it does grant a balance to the album and demonstrates a band with the courage to show their delicate side.
The dual vocals on Baby Says prove especially moving, appearing almost as a lament alongside haunting guitar lines. The Last Goodbye sees Mosshart at her most exposed with the accompaniment by piano helping to stand the song in contrast to the vibrancy of much of her other vocals. The glorious Pots And Pans anchors the album delightfully, showing The Kills at their most lyrically playful and stripped back best.
On the whole Blood Pressures proves a continued step forward for The Kills and maintains their creative distinction. Able to grow their sound sufficiently whilst maintaining the potency of what made them triumphant in the first place this album should be welcomed (and accessible) by new fans and already converted followers. This is how to make a fourth album.