There’ll be no more hiding by The Kills. After spending the last three years off the radar and mostly separated, the return of the grimy rock duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince comes as a welcome relief for the garage-starved greater public. In doing so, they’ve released another album, Blood Pressures, and proved they would not be retreating into their respective worlds of high profile side-projects and supermodel fiancées. Instead The Kills have reconnected with the image and the band that got them there in the first place. Yet, things have definitely changed. Gone are the nicknames of ‘VV’ and ‘Hotel’ for the band-born-via-airmail and, in spite of them finally sharing a postcode, they’ve probably been apart more than ever before.
That’s not to say that’s a bad thing. Heralding the arrival of their fourth and finest record to date at London’s Heaven nightclub, a mountain of amplifiers, pedals and a Mellotron set the scene for the entrance of a distinctly less black clad Mosshart with her stoical musical Chaperone Hince. Striding on stage in her typically agitated manner, the occasional rogue clump of spit and a skull-covered shirt didn’t take away from her surprisingly cheery apparel. As an artist famous for enduring the hottest weather conditions in her black leather jacket, the lighter tones came as a refreshing change. It’s also one that highlights the new openness enjoyed by The Kills since the confidence-boosting acclaim of 2008’s Midnight Boom.
Time away with The Dead Weather has seen Mosshart pushing her voice further while opting against drowning out scanty song writing in the mire of Hince’s exhilarating guitar grunts. Meanwhile, the intimate exchange of earlier The Kills shows gave way to a more brash theatricality. Lead performer Mosshart paced around on stage instead of gazing into Hince’s eyes –perhaps as a hangover from performances with the high-energy rock n roll of The Dead Weather –while he kept mostly to himself. As he caressed his guitar through the exhilarating thunder of multiple distortion pedals, The Kills’ audience was treated to songs spanning albums before it erupted to the opening dial tone of outrageously sexy single U R A Fever.
Running through new and old material and instruments, while sharing guitars and the occasional mic, the duo played their parts within the calm of familiarity. Yet, it was the palpable sense of their creative and personal distance that made The Kills as explosive as ever.