Regular tabloid readers and those familiar with the gossip pages of the free newspapers that litter public transport will no doubt have heard of The Kills. Not because the press have been dutifully reproducing record label Domino’s PR campaign or because the transatlantic duo provide the soundtrack for the 3am Girls wicked whisperings over complimentary champagne. Of course, it is because the Kills’ guitarist Jamie Hince happens to date the supermodel with a thing for scruffy rockers. There is a simple reason why Jamie Hince is better known as Mr Kate Moss and that is because, after the best part of a decade of trying, The Kills just aren’t very good.
It is a pleasure to review music of merit. It appeals to the inner fan who has a chance to wax lyrical and marvel at the kind of creativity a limited axe-smith such as myself can even dream of producing. The task of being a ‘critic’ is less enjoyable. Much as it may pain to stick the knife in; if the Chimpomatic reader wants an honest review then that is what you shall get.
There are two fundamental problems with Midnight Boom. First of all there is a deja vu sense that this has all been done before. Edgy bands with minimal rhythms, choppy riffs and ‘cooler than thou’ vocal drawlings are nothing new. Even if they had managed to master this art, and no doubt it sounds great in the rehearsal rooms, by now it would be met with a shrug. Midnight Boom is offered up with very little panache. It is an album that sounds less like Television and more like the fuzzy sloganeering of the television sets from U2’s early 90s effort Zooropa and less akin to Blondie or Patti Smith and more like INXS straining for cool credibility.
It is this pursuit of cool that is the second of The Kills’ flaws. There is a sense that they know less of who they are and more of who they wish they were. It is a pyrrhic victory for style or substance resulting in an album that ends up feeling calculated and contrived. Songs such as Sour Cherry and Cheap and Cheerful lack any convincing passion or punch. The nagging refrain when listening to these tunes that try so hard to pretend that they’re not trying hard is of Brainstorm. The Arctic Monkeys could have been singing of Hince and sidekick Alison Mosshart when they mocked “top marks for not trying…but we can’t take our eyes off the t-shirt and ties combination.”
When all’s done I can’t help agreeing the Kills’ own statement that “I want you to be crazy, you’re boring baby.” Except for the fact you go out with Kate Moss obviously.
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