It’s been nearly two decades since The Kills graced our ears with their unapologetic debut album ‘Keep On Your Mean Side’. Recorded in two weeks, the album was released on indie label Domino, who the band remain with to this day, charted in the UK Top 50 and marked the beginning of a musical career for duo Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince that would only grow and prosper as the 00’s progressed.
'Little Bastards' is a collection of rarities and B-sides that were recorded during this decade that have now been remastered and brought together as one. It captures the raw naivety of The Kills before they went on to master their stylish, minimalist sound the following decade through albums such as ‘Blood Pressures’ and ‘Ash & Ice’. Brimming with bluesy, gritty and sexy sounding rhythms, it’s as if The Kills subconsciously knew that 2020 would be the perfect year to offer us all a nostalgic antidote to this otherwise gloomy year by unveiling the fiery treasures hidden in their archives.
Hince’s trademark choppy guitar style comes to the fore from the offset in ‘Superpowerless’, coupled with a catchy vocal melody that could’ve easily made the track stand out as an A-side on 2008’s ‘Last Day Of Magic’ single release. ‘Passion is Accurate’ and ‘Kiss the Wrong Side’ continue this could’ve-easily-been-an-A-side narrative with their domineering snares before a demo is introduced (‘Raise Me’) which channels the influence of Alison’s band mate in The Dead Weather, Jack White.
Other contemporaries like Black Rebel Motorcycle Club permeate throughout the album, yet The Kills’ sense of effortless cool is unmistakable. ‘London Hates You’ revolves around the unforgettable drum beat made famous in The Ronettes’ ‘Be My Baby’, Primal Scream ‘XTRMNTR’ vibes flow through the XFM Session recording of ‘Love Is A Deserter’ and ‘Jewel Thief’ takes things all the way back to their mean 2003 debut.
Towards the tail end of the collection, the old-school indie cool of The Velvet Underground can be heard in ‘Baby’s Eyes’ while the band’s cover of the Screamin’ Jay Hawkins classic ‘I Put A Spell On You’ provides the most haunting, erratic and authentic feeling track on the album and showcases how a cover should be done properly.
'Little Bastards' may be a collection of tracks recorded over the space of a decade, but it has all the makings of a coherent stand-alone album. It’s energetic, diverse, raw and full of the forward- thinking chemistry and cool that The Kills are notorious for.
Words: Jamie Wilde
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