The Kills - Midnight Boom (Cover Artwork)
Staff Pick

The Kills

Midnight Boom (2008)


They, whoever they are, say that the third time's the charm, which certainly seems to hold true for Midnight Boom, the third release from post-punky duo the Kills. Consisting of former Discount frontwomen (God, I miss them so much) and current ex-patriot Allison "VV" Mosshart and British guitarist and Lou Reed look-alike Jamie "Hotel" Hince, the Kills have been kicking out bluesy garage rock for a few years now. But up until Midnight Boom, the group just never clicked in my eyes.

While the band's first two albums, Stay on Your Mean Side and No Wow, were both cool and slinky, they sounded like early P.J. Harvey without the bite. Songs like "Fried My Little Brains" and "No Wow" were smoky and infectious, but Rid of Me and Dry tear ‘em to shreds. Luckily, on this new offering, the Kills have gotten away from the Harvey aping, mixing in pop tunefulness and drum machines, forging the first album that feels entirely like their own style in the process.

Now, being a two-piece, the Kills have always used drum machines, but kept the sound similar to a live garage band. This time out the group embraces the drum machine's artificiality, programming beats based off of schoolyard chants and telephone dial tones. It sounds kind of weird in writing, and gets slightly stale in the record's second half, but it works overall.

The record kicks off with the one-two hit combo of "U.R.A. Fever" and "Cheap and Cheerful," Midnight Boom's two best tracks and, surprise, its first two singles. "U.R.A. Fever" is a slow-churning, sexifying track, while "Cheap and Cheerful" lives up to its name. Super catchy and laden with handclaps and sugary multi-tracked vox from Mosshart, it makes a case for being bat spit insane. With hooks this big, it seems like a reasonable argument. Other highlights include the quickshot "M.E.X.I.C.O." and super silly but super fun "Alphabet Pony."

Lower energy tracks like "Tape Song" and "Black Balloon" add a somber tinge to the album. "Black Balloon" especially allows Mosshart to showcase the more emotional lyricism she displayed with Discount, however abstract.

It took them a while, but the Kills have finally turned out a record I'd recommend to people other than self-flagellating Discount fans. Folks who dig on Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Ladytron and the White Stripes in equal proportions will dig the electro-blues dirges of Midnight Boom. Feel free to hit up iTunes for bonus track "Night Train." With or without that add-on, Midnight Boom is the best Kills record yet.