Here’s a riddle: What do you get when you cross Alison Mosshart, the front-woman of the Dead Weather, and Jamie Hince, Kate Moss’s beau and kick-ass guitar player? One might say a rock-star mess waiting to happen, but in this case it’s the Kills’ fourth album, Blood Pressures.
Aptly named, the duo’s latest album is exciting enough to get the blood pumping through any audience’s veins. Though there are fewer dance tracks than on 2008’s Midnight Boom, the Kills still keep listeners on their toes with attention-grabbing hooks and entrancing boy-girl harmonies.
Mosshart’s sultry vocals coalesce with Hince’s drippy guitar riffs to create a bluesy sound, especially on the track “Pots and Pans.” The Kills stick to their regular repertoire of riff-raff rock‘n’roll with a lo-fi mood gritty enough for ’90s fans. Blood Pressures is clearly influenced by Mosshart’s recent work with Jack White, as shown in the album’s blues-like nature. The front-woman also brings in inspiration from her past Floridian rock band with Southern coos, while Hince brings in the coarse, British sound from his background.
The pair fits together almost perfectly, but each can also shine alone. Hince makes a surprise solo appearance on the ultra-grainy, one-and-a-quarter-minute song “Wild Charm,” which includes lazy snare drums and his own veiled-over vocals to create the ultimate lo-fi experience.
The band does a solid job of sticking to its own sound. The Kills found their comfort zone in an edgy-blues-rock socket that is electrifying enough to keep listeners interested yet chill enough rest the ears. On tracks like “DNA” and “Heart Is a Beating Drum,” the Kills stick to this notion as the songs blast from extreme energy choruses to a quieter verse.
The Kills also take some risks, mostly to good result. The album dabbles in dubstep on “Nail In My Coffin” — which happens to be its highlight. Mosshart’s voice is captivating as it builds up to an explosive chorus laced with ’80s dance party groove beats.
Blood Pressures also serves as an emotional sendoff, as Mosshart sings: “I learn to cry for someone else / I can’t get by on an odds and ends love that don’t ever match up” on the ballad “The Last Goodbye.” Clearly this album acts as a catharsis for some troubles with past loves. For the most part, Blood Pressures’s instrumentals overshadow its lyrical content, but as Mosshart purges her emotions on this track, listeners can get a feel of how good a songwriter she really is.
While Mosshart has a knack for songwriting, there is not much else that makes the album original. Blood Pressures could easily be mistaken for another band’s work in the same gritty, girl-led genre. There is no identifying factor for the Kills that sets them apart. But even with its cliché factor, a dynamic is created on the album between the high-energy Mosshart and sludgy-sounding Hince. When the two come together, they create a harmonious collaboration.