March 21, 2005

The Kills "NO Wow"

Back in 2003, The Kills wowed the world with their down and dirty debut album, Keep On Your Mean Side. Lead singer VV—nee Alison Mosshart, lead singer of Florida’s Discount—transformed from punk rocker into a gutsy, ballsy and downright sultry blues-rock chanteuse and general rock and roll badass. Teamed up with the sounds-older-than-he-is Hotel, the duo wrecked shop on the house of Royal Trux, White Stripes and any and all pretenders to the then-trendy garage-rock blues revivalists—and damn, it was much appreciated, because The Kills were rulers of a classy world all their own.

With No Wow, The Kills have refined their raw sound into something much more impressive. It is a real feat for a band to make a record that is simultaneously rawer and rougher than their debut, all the while sounding much more polished, but that’s exactly what The Kills have accomplished. Throughout the record, blues-rock riffs meet up with danceable rhythms, and with VV’s sultry voice, songs like “No Wow” and “I Hate The Way You Love” sound like a one-night stand with the girl or guy your mama warned you about.

For No Wow, VV takes over the vocal spotlight, which is not a bad thing at ALL. VV picks up his slack, though, and his presence, while missed, isn’t something you’d notice. Hotel does sing here and there, and when he does, it sounds GREAT, especially the excellent “Love Is A Deserter,” and participates in a great vocal interplay on the T-Rex-inspired “The Good Ones.” Their vocal interplay makes No Wow even more powerful. “At The Back Of The Shell” is one of the album’s roughest tracks—it’s just scratchy guitar and loops of handclaps—but their vocal interplay, like a musical yin-yang, will draw you in, impress you and turn you on.

One word best describes No Wow: SEXY. It’s one of the dirtiest, most soulful records you’ll hear this year. This is music for passionate people made by passionate people, and methinks they’ve accomplished their mission if, after listening, you’re left wanting a cigarette and feeling a little bit dirty.

--Joseph Kyle

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