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The Kills "Blood Pressures"

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Album Review

Blood Pressures
The Kills
[Domino Records]

Three years after their danceable, drum-machine driven album Midnight Boom, the ultra-cool, minimalistic, chain-smoking indie rock duo known as The Kills are back with their groovy, fuzzy, and feedback-filled album Blood Pressures

The Kills are known for a simple, rusty, razorblades-edge sharpness to their sound that relies heavily on bluesy scales and tension filled rhythms, but Blood Pressures is a sign of true growth and evolution into new territories (while maintaining some key sound signature qualities).

The new album, infused with laid-back rhythms, carries itself in a more comfortable manner. And by creating a smoother groove, the band ventures into different style scales instead of relying so heavily on the blues scale (they even go as far as a piano waltz in "The Last Goodbye"). They still maintain guitarist Jamie Hince's (aka "Hotel") signature plucked hand-strummed, fuzzy, layered, feedback-ready guitar tone, and Hince is also getting very good at playing independent sounding rhythm and melody parts simultaneously, creating the illusion of two guitarists. 

The first track, "Future Starts Slow" starts the album off with a cool and confident groove. Alison Mosshart (aka "VV") and Hince sing, "You can holler/You can wail/You can blow what's left of my right mind" in a classic Kills nonchalantness. 

"Satellite," the first hit on the album, begins with two demonstrations of Hince manhandling the heavily effected feedback escaping from his guitar before breaking into the bassy and fuzzy reggae rhythms of the hypnotic song. 

"Heart is a Beating Drum" is an upbeat and danceable track that often sounds like there are two guitarists playing. 

"Nail in my Coffin," filled with single note fuzz, tension and sporadic energy sounds like The Kills' attempt to write a Dead Weather song. 

"Wild Charms" is Hince's solo, a spacey ballad that sounds like a psychedelic version of a song from black and white movie days. 

"DNA" reverts back to the good ole' bluesy ways of the Kills, with the tense rhythm of a horror movie when a zombie who's missing a leg is still jerkily limping towards its victim. 

"Baby Says" has a very special fractured guitar tone and an extremely catchy melody with an unusually high amount of vocal emotional expression, which makes The Kills lose some cool points. 

"The Last Goodbye", Mosshart's attempt at singing solo, is a melancholic waltz ballad backed by an out of tune keyboard and violin. It is probably the most unKills song on the album, but it's well executed, demonstrating the potential for the band to continue evolving and venturing into new territories. 

"Damned If She Do" returns The Kills to their classic, minimalistic, bluesy style. When I listen to the song, I have an unusual desire to smoke a cigarette and bob my head to the music as if I wasn't bothered by the fact that I was sucking burning poison into my lungs. 

The Dead Weather's Alison Mosshart comes back for "You Don't Own the Road." With her swagger-filled vocal vibratos, she tells you that "You don't own the dusty in your big brown eyes when you keep them closed". 

"Pots and Pans" is a tension-filled song that starts with a steady booming tom-tom drum and acoustic guitar. The duo sings lines like "I can't find enough love in my heart/Let alone in my bones to keep you standing," before Hince's thick, fuzzy, vibrato electric guitar fills up the empty space and leads the song to its end. 

With so many new directions and approaches that are enriched by influences from the Dead Weather, The Kills have grown and continue to evolve with time. I'm assured that their innovations will continue to keep them safe from the dangers of getting old and trapped by their own signatures. 

Blood Pressures shows us that The Kills are just getting started. They've established themselves, and now, they are really starting to experiment and reach out without trying to impress anybody. And that's why they are badass. 

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