Album Review by Mark Bayross
A year on from their debut album KEEP ON YOUR MEAN SIDE comes NO WOW, the Kills‘ sophomore effort, recorded in the “ghost town“ of Benton Harbour Michigan, written and recorded within the comparatively epic timeframe of three months.
Moving on from the Velvet Underground-inspired sound of their debut, NO WOW aims to evoke the intensity of the late 70s New York club scene when punk was turning into disco and the cutting edge was moving from CBGB’s to Studio 54. The result, much like its predecessor, is a collision of raw guitars, stripped down beats and Alison’s in-your-face vocals.
Comparisons to PJ Harvey and Sonic Youth are obvious although the electronic effects on tracks like AT THE BACK OF THE SHELL aptly reference the experimentalism of late Joy Division / early New Order as the Mancunians’ transformation encapsulated this transition from punk to disco perfectly.
The blues-punk sound is minimalist for sure, but possibly not as much as some would have you believe: songs like RODEO TOWN are full of melody and a driving rhythm, and demonstrate that The Kills can do ‘accessible’ when they want to, while the tense disco of MURDERMILE has a bed of warm beats to cushion the lyrical blows and shards of guitar.
NO WOW isn’t as original as it thinks it is and you may need to give it time to grow on you, but there are enough ideas and impressive moments to keep you coming back.