Wednesday, 30 April 2003

Album Review: Keep On Your Mean Side

That a stylish, bluesy, cross-gender pairing is automatically compared to The White Stripes should surprise no one. If there’s one thing the music industry likes to do, it’s make statements like, “if you like band X you’l love band Y.” Well I guess there is some truth to the statement this time round. Fans of The White Stripes will find a lot to like about The Kills, but the meekly sum up Keep On Your Mean Side as a wannabe White Blood Cells doesn’t tell half the story.

So after their critically lauded but commercially ignored Black Rooster EP comes this, The Kills debut LP. The music press have been harping on about The Kills for a long time now and aside from The White Stripes comparisons, they always mention how good The Kills look. Granted, aside from this record they seem to have a lot going for them: both VV and Hotel are achingly cool, the pair simmer with sexual tension, they use a drum machine and most importantly of all they have ‘the’ in their title. But the most important thing about The Kills right now is that Keep On Your Mean Side rocks with a vengeance.

The opening guitar chug of ‘Superstition’ sets the scene perfectly, recalling Rid Of Me era Polly Harvey. Future single Cat Claw is just astounding; it’s a bone-shaking rock n roll record with an awesome hook. Pull A U robs a Jimmy Page sized riff from Kashmir and plies it lavishly across its three minute running time.

Like most debut records, you can’t help but think that maybe The Kills are trying a little too hard to impress at times. As VV sneers, “Fried my little brains” on the track of the same name. To put a track entitled Fuck The People on a debut record takes some balls. After the Beautiful People-esque drum sample at the beginning, it grows to become the best track on the album.

It’s rare nowadays for bands to live up to the hype lavished on them but The Kills may just achieve it. For they are close to being a complete act after only one LP and the future looks absurdly bright for them. Take the voice of PJ Harvey, the guitar of Royal Trux, the mystique of The White Stripes, the cool of The Velvet Underground and you have The Kills. Fans of any of the above should consider this an essential purchase, and I defy anyone to be massively disappointed by Keep On Your Mean Side.

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