It doesn’t seem like that long since their 2008 album ‘Midnight Boom’. Things have changed a lot since then. Alison Mosshart has created two albums alongside Jack White with ‘The Dead Weather’ and Jamie Hince has been featuring in tabloid pages for his relationship with Kate Moss. Seemingly, their music hasn’t achieved any more mainstream success as a result of this.
This is their fourth album together and it seems like their third, ‘Midnight Boom’ is the anomaly. The first two albums may have defined the ‘Kills sound’ that is still noticeably present in ‘Midnight Boom’, but they were much more straight forward, good rock albums. I have just dug up a very primitive review I did of the album three years ago which I slightly cringe at but still agree with and you can read it here. ‘Midnight Boom’ is in a genre of it’s own. Minimal, distorted and polished are not three words that usually go together, but they were in complete harmony. All the tracks have great hooks and it’s consistent through to the final song. They had a formula, but it wasn’t the formula of the mainstream. However, the track that stood out on that album was probably the closest to a standard rock song they did on that album. ‘Last Day of Magic’ is possibly their finest hour and it seems that this latest album starts where it ended.
Opening with the drum machine, closely followed by Hince’s considerable talent for creating guitar hooks, ‘Future Starts Slow’ blows you away, as does the first trak released, ‘Satellite’. The dirty guitar and Mosshart and Hince’s vocals juxtaposing give you the impression that this could well be their masterpiece. It would be asking too much to expect this intensity to keep up during the duration of the album and it’s unfeasible to imagine they would attempt to, but unfortunately, like on their first two albums, the great songs stand so far above the average ones, that as an album, it doesn’t quite work.
This album does show signs of progression, a piano makes an appearance in ‘the Last Goodbye’, a rather beautiful ballad, and ‘Wild Charms’, sung solely by Hince, wouldn’t be out of place on the latest Alex Turner EP, but I don’t think it’s the right progression. I’ve already talked of formulas and The Kills have a perfect one. When at their best, they drip with sex and lust, partly due to the chemistry and seeming sexual tension between Hince and Mosshart. On this album they feel more distant, as if their two ideals haven’t quite met. This is even represented on the album cover, showing them in a confined space, presumably a taxi, but as remote as possible.
Now this is not to say this is a bad album, I’d go as far as to say it may be their second best. There are some unbelievably good songs on here and there is a not bad song on it, just a few average ones, which in the context of the Kills still means they’re better than most of the shite out there. I just feel like they have gone one step back, as if the brilliance of ‘Midnight Boom’ wasn’t the sound they were looking for. But, in doing so they have created a really good rock album, not a genre defying classic, but a worthy album indeed.