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The Kills
KEEP ON YOUR MEAN SIDE
(ROUGH TRADE)

Stars graphics

You know that recurring dream I’ve been telling you about, the one where Polly Jean Harvey decides to become Glenn Danzig? Maybe the Kills had it too. An American girl called VV (who does most of the singing), a Brit guy called Hotel (who does most of the guitar playing), and a drum machine that (for once) hasn’t been given a name, they’re the Royal Trux I always wanted: a timely consolidation of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs’ sexy/sinister garage-punk groove and the White Stripes’ pared-down monster-truck blooze, conjuring not just the devils in R.L. Burnside’s guitar but the detuned heavy-metal thunder at the crossroads. VV does Four Track Demos–era PJ without the poetic distance; " The kids want to fuck and fight, " the line she and Hotel hiss at each other on " Black Rooster, " wouldn’t be a bad choice for her epitaph. They’re maybe the nastiest-to-each-other rock-and-roll couple since the one in the Stooges’ " I Wanna Be Your Dog " : VV’s line " Get my name stitched on your lips so you won’t get hitched " is an order, not a suggestion, and " Gonna stab your kissin’ mouth " sounds more like a promise than a threat. And their make-up songs make you wonder whether you ought to be listening: on " Cat Claw, " a holdover from last year’s Black Rooster EP (on Dim Mak), VV pants and spits like Cat Power in heat while Hotel kicks up a deep, lurching guttural riff that licks at her wounds.

BY CARLY CARIOLI

Issue Date: April 3 - 10, 2003
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