The Kills – Keep On Your Mean Side

Share now:

Album Review by Adam Foster

There’s a popular parlour game around at the moment: guess which records are in Mr & Mrs Kills’s private collection. The White Stripes have been much-cited, as have the Doves. But my guess is that the CDs that line the floor of their flat (probably in Hoxton) would be of an older order. The Velvet Underground, Captain Beefheart, Led Zeppelin and The Doors all raise their heads.

The excellent HITCHED, for example, contains absurd elements of Nancy Sinatra (“These Boots Were Made for Walking”), Norman Greenbaum (“Spirit in the Sky”), and T-Rex (“Children of the Revolution”). BLACK ROOSTER nods to Black Rebel Motorcycle Club (who admittedly ripped off Norman Greenbaum for “Spread Your Love”), John Lee Hooker and Canned Heat (“On The Road Again”). Canned Heat turn up again – this time guesting with the Doors – on FUCK THE PEOPLE. In MONKEY 23, Joy Division meet Velvet Underground and Nico.

Ultimately, though, it’s a fruitless game because this album is its own beast. It’s also smart: most debutants would front-load the best tracks. Not so The Kills. The first three tracks betray little of the later joy and complexity of the album. In fact, they are a little tiresome: three chord progressions with PJ Harvey / Patti Smith vocals. You wonder if you can really take twelve tracks of this. But then it gets into its stride, and is almost irresistible.

It’s one of those albums that creeps up on you: by the time it gets to the Sleeperesque track nine WAIT, you’re inclined to be grinning like an idiot and tapping your feet on the train. And when the quirky Edie Brickell meets Eddie Reader final track GYPSY DEATH & YOU finishes, you feel bereft. And you start again.

Overall, then, a CD that deserves attention. There will obviously be charges of plagiarism, but it’s best to get over this quickly, lay back and let the music work for you. Energetic and often biting, the album its own best defence.

4 stars