The Kills - Blood Pressures (Cover Artwork)
Staff Review

The Kills

Blood Pressures (2011)


After a pair of successful albums with Jack White and the Dead Weather, singer Allison Mosshart has returned to the band that got her there, the Kills, with the new record Blood Pressures. Not to downplay the importance of guitarist/vocalist Jamie Hince or anything, but Mosshart has been in the press for the last few years because of her art; Hince, meanwhile, has been hanging out with his special lady friend Kate Moss. Getting the band together at least gets him out of the house.

With the Dead Weather's success, Blood Pressures is as much a response to Sea of Cowards as it is to the Kills' sexcellent 2008 trashy dance/blues record Midnight Boom. Where DW can be counted on for outrageous statements ("Shake your hips like battleships!") and big arena rock, the Kills have opted to go insular. Or, at least as insular as a pair of boozy rockers can go.

The Kills started off as a PJ Harvey-aping blues rock couple. Midnight Boom injected a lot of dance-pop elements into that formula, and it remains the group's most accessible album. Blood Pressures downplays the pop aspect a bit; two tunes even go for full-on balladry. Of course, if you listen to just the first half of the album, you'll think I'm a liar. Blood Pressures is frontloaded with big hits. "Future Starts Slow" opens with a mid-tempo drum beat before Hince starts weaving a catchy guitar line over the beat. He and Mosshart slowly build a tale of jealous lovers while the guitars get harder and harder. Single "Satellite" is slower, almost dub-esque. "Heart Is a Beating Drum" and "Nail in My Coffin" offer a dual set of angular beats and party jams.

The record takes a turn on Hince's dreamy "Wild Charms", which sounds like a John Lennon piano demo. It's only 75 seconds long, but it's a neat palate-cleanser. Mosshart's turn at balladry, "The Last Goodbye" is a little more wearisome. It just plods on and on; it's a hair away from becoming a kitschy bar bawler. It's a speed bump that damages the album's flow, and the three songs that come after it don't quite recapture the energy of "Nail" or "Future". Still, Blood Pressures is a welcome return from a group I assumed was finished. It complements both the Dead Weather and the Kills' combined discographies nicely.