When a car door closed on Jamie Hince’s hand in 2013, it seemed like a possible career ending moment… However through a series of six operations, and losing his dexterity, Hince would not only write music in between surgeries but he also had to re-teach himself how to play guitar. Except now, he had to learn to play with three fingers instead of five. To say it was a painful evolution is a definite understatement but the outcome is worth it because now The Kills’ fifth album and first in five years, Ash & Ice, is out now.
To make up for losing the dexterity Hince brought in lush synths and samplers, which the duo always flirted with, but now the electronics are more clear-cut and striking. It’s obvious right from the opener and first single, Doing It To Death. The track is immediately gripping, the beat is quintessentially cool which is the Kills trademark. The riff rips right in with the robust bass that harmonized along a fluctuating synth line.
Ash & Ice was recorded in LA and polished in New York, it seems like the perfect balance of the two coasts, the rock n roll lifestyle of nighttime LA and the chaos of the big apple. The album is no doubt unmistakably Kills with signature fractured guitar riffs and seedy beats that are oh-so-lavishly sleazy but now it’s more smoothed out in a sleek demeanor and paired with electro-percussive beats. Their sound also has a more expansive view with influences of blues on Hum For Your Buzz, touches of gospel on Impossible Tracks which also samples the drums from Mighty Voices Of Wonder’s I Thank The Lord, and more of a dance club vibe with the electric and almost twerk induced tempo of Days Of Why And How.
While Heart of a Dog is loaded with guitar lines and booming bass rhythm that’s about remaining loyal to each other with lyrics like, “I get lost but I always come around, it’s a strange fear allows me to be found, I’m loyal…. I got the heart of a dog.” The video is sexy without the overt sexual symbolism or objectification. It’s kind of like a day-in-the-life kind of thing with Mosshart and Hince, their partnership is ride or die (which is what we all want whether romantic or not).
Alison Mosshart’s vocals are as haunting and smoldering as ever, her fierceness comes out in harmonies that perfectly balances Jamie Hince’s rock n roll swagger and snarling guitar riffs only now we also get synth tempos. Either way, it’s good to have the Kills back and we currently have the album on repeat.
Ash & Ice is out now via Domino.