April 12, 2002

The Kills "Keep On Your Mean Side"

It's hit me like a smash, really. When they released their Black Rooster EP, I easily felt like greatness was theirs in the making, but who knew? Who knew that VV and Hotel would turn in a record that justified the greatness of another dynamic, druggy duo, Royal Trux? That they've done so without ever sounding like mere imitators is an even greater joy, too. I don't know about you, but down-home naughty rock is something that's just not done right anymore.

Don't worry, though--The Kills aren't the new Royal Trux, and they're not "the new" anything. Sure, Keep On Your Mean Side is one helluva druggy-blues record, but theirs is the sound of pure sexuality, gettin' it on in London's darkest, dirtiest alleys. You're not even thinking of chemicals when VV opens her mouth--you're thinkin' lovin', hard lovin', gritty lovin' that comes with being horny in the summertime. She exudes pure SEX when she sings and she knows no equal--except, of course, when Hotel joins in. Lo-fi, dirty field recordings of incidents that spread social diseases--the blissful joys of unprotected, unexpected, dirty-alleyway sex, it's THAT good---but are you that bad?

Two songs reappear from Black Rooster, but they're quite welcome. Songs like "Pull A U" and "Fuck The People" are tough little numbers, "Fried My Little Brain" is perhaps the album's highlight. You can't help but feel the poverty in their songs, and the lust in their heart. The only problem to be had with Keep On Your Mean Side comes not from their gritty sound, but because at times one gritty lo-fi blues number seems to sound like the previous gritty lo-fi blues-rock number. Though the album's fresh, it does kind of lose its wind when "Black Rooster" comes around.

No matter--if you're properly experiencing Keep On Your Mean Side, you shouldn't be paying attention by then, anyway. If you're not gettin' down and dirty, then you ain't listening right. This is one helluva debut.

--Joseph Kyle

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