The Kills
Midnight Boom


4.5
superb

Review

by Bryan Lee Madden USER (27 Reviews)
July 29th, 2009 | 10 replies | 8,524 views


Release Date: 2008 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Raw, dark and stripped to the bone – The Kills' “Midnight Boom” ain't born typical.

5 of 5 thought this review was well written

The Kills are Alison Mossheart and Jamie Hince. The guy/girl duo is a trend in rock that has been working with a great deal of success in recent past. Predating the The Ting Tings by a few years and several years newer than The White Stripes, The Kills offer a meaner, sharper and outright cooler flavor of rock than their current guy/girl counterparts. Rough and sleazy punk/blues with a programmed drum beat, Alison and Jamie bring more to the table with less than any band of this generation.

While they'll never escape comparisons to their closest musical relatives, The White Stripes, their sound is darker, grittier and even more lo-fi than Jack and Meg's. Their third album, Midnight Boom, is a thoroughly consistent record that doesn't take a break from kicking listeners ears right in the a**. With its dirty, slinky guitar riffs, emotionally void drum beats and Alison's cool, confident, I-don't-give-a-fu*k delivery, Midnight Boom is an album that offers more treats in its basket than one would expect from a band with so few resources.

Opening with touch-tone phone beeps and an intermittent dial tone is Midnight Boom's first track and lead single. “U R A Fever” is a hand clapped, minimalist, call and response song that's kept on its leash until it reaches its post-chorus, one chord, band-saw guitar riff that cuts deep and sets the harsh, aggressive tone for the remainder of the song. Like their sophomore effort, No Wow, Midnight Boom opens with what could be considered its strongest track. Setting the bar high early, Midnight Boom offers almost too much promise too early, but by their third LP, Alison and Jamie have clearly found their swagger and find a way to open new, equally intriguing doors at every turn.

With one possible exception, every track on the album could be a single. Track two, and the second single off the album, “Cheap and Cheerful” is a slightly more upbeat track that you could probably dance uncomfortably to in social situations. With it's borderline-industrial drum beat and cheer-like vocal, it's about as “party” as the album gets. “I want you to be crazy, 'cause you're boring baby when you're straight.” Not quite as poetic as harsh, Alison's lyrics are honest and to the point. She uncovers common territory nobody else explores. “It's alright (it's alright) to be mean (to be mean).” She's right. It's better this way.

“Tape Song” is based around a rapid, low-key, programmed percussion that's interrupted for choruses by Jamie's clanging, thrashy riffs over Alison's intensified, expressive lyrical delivery. The chorus bites like a snake while the verse ticks like a clock. The lyrics continue to explore the same unpleasant, honest territory found in the earlier tracks. “Time ain't gonna cure you honey. Time don't give a sh*t.” The verse guitar is composed almost entirely of harmonics. Squeezing the alternative, physical sounds out his instrument is Hince's forte. Like Nick Zinner of Yeah Yeah Yeahs, Jamie Hince uses a single guitar to get the roughest, fullest sound out of his six strings and a pick, while never indulging in clichéd rock instrumentation. By using all of the hidden sounds on the guitar, The Kills almost have more than one live instrument.

Because of the shortage of band members and instruments, The Kills have to use every resource available to them. One of those resources is the vocals of Jamie Hince, who shares vox duty on the opening “U R A Fever” and track four, “Getting Down”. With limited vocal ability, Jamie stays well within his close-to sing/speak range - which lends itself perfectly to the lo-fi, build-it-from-scratch sound The Kills are so adept at. “Getting Down” is the only track on Midnight Boom that features Jamie's vocal over Alison.

“Last Day of Magic” could be the album's strongest track and single, depending on where you're standing. Probably the most straight-forward rock and roll song on the album, it's the only track you could imagine another band performing. While “Last Day of Magic” clearly has their stamp all over it – it also has the most recognizable construction in regards to what you could expect to hear on a modern rock radio station. On a really good day.

While never repeating itself, yet never straying from it's core, Midnight Boom offers quality songs piled from bottom to top. “Hook and Line” has one of the strongest hooks on the album in the lyric containing it's title. “Black Balloon” is a slow building, hand-clapped percussion, ballad with dreamy vocals and somber lyrics. “Has anyone ever told you it's not coming ... true?” No, but thanks for the spoiler. “Alphabet Pony” is pure, simplistic fun, while “What New York Used To Be” explores the more electronic side of what The Kills can do. If every track on the album were more like it, The Kills could pass for an industrial act.

The only time the album ceases to maintain its engaging sound is in the closing “Goodnight Bad Morning.” With a sleepy guitar line and vocal performance, the track wants to tuck you in as it closes itself out, which is appropriate, but not quite welcome after listening to the eleven tracks that preceded it. Alison does a great Hope Sandoval impression on a track that would really fit better on a Mazzy Star record than a Kills album.

Midnight Boom showcases what The Kills are now capable of. If they had a ceiling after No Wow, they blasted through it with their third release and have opened up all kinds of new dark alleys and avenues to wander down and drag us across – broken glass and all.



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Comments:Add a Comment 
Prophet178
July 29th 2009



6397 Comments


I enjoyed 'No Wow', I'll have to grab this if you say its this good.

DaveyBoy
Staff Reviewer
July 29th 2009



20856 Comments


Very good review Frank. It tells me everything I needed to know about this album (I'm another who has been meaning to give these guys a listen, but hasn't yet).

The only thing I would suggest is attempting to make your review more concise. 10 paragraphs is a little much and if you go over each of them, there are a few instances where you could consolidate the topics written about in 2 paragraphs into 1.

RobotFrank
July 30th 2009



344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Thanks for the compliments and the advice, DaveyBoy. It's always appreciated. I'll possibly do some edits and I'll consider that in the future.

And Prophet - def check this one out if you dig No Wow - you wont be sorry. Thanks for the +POS.

dudebud
November 7th 2009



4 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Well written but cannot completely agree with the rating. The first handful of tracks are driving and fun regardless of subject matter. But the second half is far less memorable. I give it a 3 for losing my attention halfway through. But i do snap back to life with the "sour cherry" guitar solo. simple yet sweet.

RobotFrank
November 8th 2009



344 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

thanks dudebud.

dylantheairplane
February 2nd 2011



2165 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheap and Cheerful is the shiitt

jefflebowski
November 11th 2013



7718 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

easily their best album, tape song and last day of magic are great

Digging: Big Black - Atomizer

LordePots
March 26th 2014



6533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

kinda love these guys a little bit

osmark86
March 26th 2014



3921 Comments


oh man, haven't listened to these guys in years

Digging: Spectral Lore - III

LordePots
March 26th 2014



6533 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

me neither till lately





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