Midnight Boom by The Kills

by Adam Z. Berenstain, SUNY Cortland, April 3, 2008

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Midnight Boom is the latest album from The Kills, and is a marked shift from the band’s earlier sound. Singer Alison “VV” Mosshart and guitarist Jamie “Hotel” Hince have replaced lo-fi blues with energetic pop garage rock that more fully embraces the low-tech electronic influences that have been with the band since 2003’s Keep on Your Mean Side. The band’s penchant for coming off as dangerous and decadent remains, if toned down a bit this time out. Gone, thankfully, are previous albums' annoying pre- and post- song sonic interludes featuring Mosshart mumbling mysteriously into telephones.

The Kills has never been a band for good lyrics, but Midnight Boom is a step up in this regard. Lyrics like, “I’m sick of social graces/Show your shark-tipped teeth/Lose your cool in public/Dig that illegal meat,” are slight, but sound just right in Cheap and Cheerful. Mosshart’s voice is seriously lacking in the range department, but gives even middling lyrics a sexy world-weariness as long as you don’t think too hard about what's being said. Hince’s fuzzy-chirpy guitar provides the foundation that keeps The Kill’s lyrical noodlings grounded.

So what on earth is the appeal of The Kills? Like the Yeah Yeah Yeahs, The Kills never quite amounts to more than the sum of its parts, but you just can’t underestimate the appeal of a sexy girl and grungy guitars. Not every band needs to be a Radiohead. Sometimes it's enough that a band can still find a thrill in a walk on the wild side, self-consciously or no. Sometimes good enough is great.

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