the kills - keep on your mean side album cover

The Kills

Keep on Your Mean Side

★★★★☆


1 Superstition 4:40
2 Cat Claw 3:32
3 Pull a U 3:23
4 Kissy Kissy 5:02
5 Fried My Little Brains 2:08
6 Hand 0:50
7 Hitched 4:02
8 Black Rooster 4:24
9 Wait 4:47
10 Fuck the People 4:17
11 Monkey 23 3:06
12 Gypsy Death & You 2:10


Rough Trade, 2003

REVIEW

When Florida native Alison Mosshart and Londoner Jamie Hince formed The Kills, their sound and image contrasted sharply against the standard indie rocker setup of 3-4 dudes rehashing ‘70s/’80s college rock. 

With Mosshart’s ragged vocals and Hince’s scraping, fuzz-drenched guitar however, this two-person setup packed plenty of bite. Like the White Stripes, they modeled their music after American roots music, but narrowed their scope to produce a tight, focused sound that pulsed with the nervy tension of PJ Harvey and the narcotic haze of the Velvet Underground.

Keep on your Mean Side is a noisy getaway soundtrack, an homage to outlaw blues records of the past. On the punky “Cat Claw” and “Fried My Little Brains”, Hince’s guitar buzzes like a rusty chainsaw as he rips through brassy riffs that the production accentuates with a satisfying clang. Ballads like “Gypsy Death and You” place the focus on Mosshart’s vocals and add a tenderness that’s flavoured with solo-era Lou Reed melancholy.

“Kissy Kissy” is a druggy psychedelic ballad that’s very reminiscent of the Velvet Underground’s own “Venus in Furs“. Where the White Stripes were about maximizing the sound of 2 members, the spareness of the Kills’ arrangements create a stark, noirish atmosphere that few bands in this era were able to manage.

October 18, 2020