The Kills - Keep On Your Mean Side

by Bob Coyne Rating: Release Date:2003-03-10

Keep on Your Mean Side, The Kills' debut, is a stark 21st-century blues album, the sort of thing that would have struggled to find an audience before the White Stripes broke into the mainstream. So it's lucky for them--and us--that they had such respectable coat tails to ride on.

Like the White Stripes, The Kills are a male-female duo--Alison Mosshart, aka VV, and Hotel, aka the bloke--and they play a music that's rootsy and blues-influenced, with a garage-rock edge. And that's where the similarities end. Sure, the Kills use a drum machine instead of a live drummer, but the differences run much deeper than that: The Kills peddle a dirtier and more sex-drenched version of blues rock, a result of the shared vocal duties of Hotel and VV, and most obvious on the sultry "Hitched" (I'll get my name stitched on your lips so you won't get hitched…").

These are songs that sweat sexual menace, recalling Boss Hogg's first album, or even early PJ Harvey (on "Superstition" and "Wait", VV's voice is a dead ringer for young Polly Jean's). Best of all, these songs are stuffed with hooks--"Cat Claw" and "Fried My Little Brains", in particular. In a sea of pretenders, the Kills could finally provide some genuine competition for the White Stripes. --Robert Burrow

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