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CD of The Week

Week of 10/30/23

    The Kills - God Games (Domino)

    The first three albums (Keep on Your Mean Side, No Wow, and Midnight Boom) from The Kills are one of the most remarkable opening runs in indie rock history. Full of grimy swagger and sultry power, Allison Mosshart and Jamie Hince created a unique sound and image that was an exciting contrast from the other, more famous blues-punk duos that emerged at the same time. Since that time, the band has been less prolific, with both Mosshart and Hince spreading their wings with other projects, and when they have made music together, the results have been somewhat disappointing, with the excitement of the band’s early material only emerging occasionally.

    God Games, the band’s first album since 2016’s Ash & Ice, is an admirable step in a new direction while still retaining the cocky strut of their best work. Lead single and album opener, “New York” features a great riff from Hince and evocative vocals from Mosshart, with her howling “I bust my lips on yours / how sweet, the night is dark enough / We’re only seeing stars.” Meanwhile, “Kingdom Come” effectively builds to a stomping, anthemic chorus that still maintains a sense of danger and mystery.

    Other songs branch out a bit and shake up the formula. It’s unclear whether this is because some of the material was written originally for a Hince side project or whether working with producer Paul Epworth (Adele, Florence + The Machine) has caused new influences to emerge. Either way, certain sonic additions, like the Latin flourishes on “Better Days,” enhance the mood and themes of certain songs, while others, such as the hip-hop rhythm and choir usage on “My Girls My Girls,” are less effective. It’s unclear to me how well some of these tracks will be received by the band’s fanbase, but it makes for a varied, refreshing listen.

    While imperfect, God Games is probably the best Kills album since that opening hat-trick in the 2000s. Though much of the visceral energy has subsided, the icy-cool attitude and great musical chemistry between Mosshart and Hince remain intact.

    The Kills are bringing their intense vibes to Union Transfer on Saturday, February 24th, 2024.
    Review by Sol

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