(2 out of 5)
The creative trajectory of the Kills has been an interesting one to follow. Defiant, artful, and very nearly contemptuous in their early years as a duo, the cooler-than-thou vibe that Allison Mosshart and Jamie Hince projected had a massive impact on their early recordings. The duo’s first full-length album sounded like a raw, dirty, and confrontational slash at the modern-garage-band approach, making for an unfussy and explosive sound that bristled with electricity and venom. In the years since, though, the Kills have become more and more interested in expanding their sonic palette; and to the degree that their formative sound was based on simplicity and directness, BLOOD PRESSURES seems to spring from the idea that more is better. Cuts like “Nail In My Coffin” are birthed from the barest elements, but wind up sounding overly-polished and oddly half-baked. While the Kills circa 2001 would beat a simple idea into glorious submission, the Kills in 2011 seem content to take a sliver of an idea and pad it unnecessarily into something resembling a song, resulting in plodding, mid-tempo mush. “Satellite” and “DNA” sound expressly crafted to capitalize on the success the duo has had placing cuts like “Cheap and Cheerful” in video games and television shows; it’s as if the songs are calculated to contain just enough sleaze and sinister swagger to evoke the idea that they’re somehow dangerous. It’s easy enough to blame this misstep on Mosshart’s newfound glory in the Dead Weather – a band that seems to continually benefit from her creativity and attitude – but what seems more apparent is that the Kills have simply run their course creatively. While nothing on BLOOD PRESSURES sinks to the level of being purely awful, none of it rises to the heights one would expect from this once-great band.