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splendid > reviews > 3/10/2003
The Kills
The Kills
Keep On Your Mean Side
Rough Trade


Format Reviewed: CD

Soundclip: "Kissy Kissy"

Buy me now
Here's the scenario: you've got two instruments (guitar and drums), two band members (one male, one female), some sexed-up, stank nasty retro rock sounds and a band name with that telltale definite article affixed to the beginning. No, it's not the new White Stripes record -- it's something infinitely better. The Kills may have all the trappings of a second rate garage revival act, but they get better mileage out of the skeletal guitar rock formula than their peers. Heck, "Superstition" even recalls Sonic Youth, with female member W doing her best Kim Gordon over a brazen six string that scrawls its signature in a bath of feedback. The stumbling notes that open "Monkey 23" are a dead ringer for Fugazi's "23 Beats Off", as one can ascertain from the name -- evidence of influences more diverse than VU and Television.

On a scale of pure guitar prowess, Keep On Your Mean Side stacks up well, dealing in meaty Zeppelin hooks and slabs of distortion that only a machete could hack through. The eerie combination of male/female guttural cooing and the gloriously frayed word-pictures completes the package, making for an album that's hard to escape.



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