Kills, The - God Games

Regular price $ 36.99

The Kills may have a reputation for being minimalists, but that's not the case when it comes to taking creative risks. They've never made the same album twice, and on God Games they sound especially vibrant. Working with co-producer Paul Epworth -- an old friend who served as their soundman during the Black Rooster days -- they sweep away the gloom of Ash & Ice in favor of a sharp, present sound that showcases Alison Mosshart's powerhouse vocals, Jamie Hince's equally formidable riffs, and the sparks that fly when they combine. The duo's music has never been short on drama, but "New York"'s blasts of brass and guitar still kick off God Games with a jolt. Here and on the apocalyptic love song "103," where Hince's playing moves from heat shimmer verses to choruses that sound like ghostly echoes of the Sunset Strip in the '80s, the Kills deliver songs with shout-along conviction that never tips into pandering. The confidence not to overdo these anthemic moments also radiates on the easy, swaggering tempos that show off the complexity of God Games' more introspective songs. The title track's blurry textures fall somewhere between ambient and trip-hop, echoing the song's uneasy truce between love and the danger of being hurt again; on "LA Hex," weighty brass and echoing dub underscore its weariness and resilience. God Games' richness extends to Mosshart's voice. Maybe it's Epworth's experience recording divas like Adele, but Mosshart has rarely sounded finer than when she snarls and croons on "Love and Tenderness" and "Going to Heaven," which updates the Kills' mystique with slinky synths and double-jointed beats. This is the first album the duo composed primarily with keyboards instead of guitars, a daring move with often brilliant results. Using little more than piano and Mosshart's voice to evoke a heartache for the ages, the fantastic "Blank'' could be a hungover Burt Bacharach ballad. "Kingdom Come and Get It"'s galloping disco and "Better Days"' sultry, Latin-tinged electro-pop find Hince and Mosshart branching out even further, and the wide swath of sounds they touch on highlights just how strong God Games' songwriting is. Envisioned as a set of "godless spirituals," the album's feeling of reaching out for strength -- and perhaps salvation -- peaks on "My Girls, My Girls," where the Compton Kidz Club Choir's soaring harmonies elevate its self-deprecating chorus. The pair sound just as genuine, but a whole lot cheekier, on "Wasterpiece," a sweet-and-sour ode to a doomed relationship commemorated with pithy lines like "You're VIP in the hall of fame/I'm RIP on the walk of shame." As consistent as it is audacious, God Games is the most exciting leap forward in the Kills' music since Midnight Boom. Twenty years after the release of Keep on Your Mean Side -- a time when many acts consolidate their sound into something safe and reliable -- Mosshart and Hince are still at the top of their game.

Boomslang Green Vinyl

New York 4:04
Going To Heaven 3:48
LA Hex 3:14
Love And Tenderness 2:40
103 4:05
My Girls My Girls 3:38
Wasterpiece 3:11
Kingdom Come 3:19
God Games 2:25
Blank 2:27
Bullet Sound 3:43
Better Days 2:47