The Kills: Ash & Ice (Domino) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Sunday, July 5th, 2020  

The Kills

Ash & Ice


Jun 03, 2016 Issue # 57 - M83 Bookmark and Share

Every record that Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have produced together as The Kills has been laden with a palpable tension that simmers between the two writing partners; on 2011's Blood Pressures, that magnetic push-and-pull manifested itself into a superb collection of moody, hair-raising tracks where you can feel Hince and Mosshart feeding off each other's energy. It's five years (and a few hand surgeries for Hince) later, and on Ash & Ice the spark between them seems to have dimmed.

For a band with inarguably electric chemistry, the sudden disconnect between its two members doesn't go unnoticed. It's hard to explain the dissonance, but it feels like Mosshart and Hince were on opposite sides of the country when laying down these tracks.

In the span of time since Blood Pressures, Hince supposedly had to relearn how to play guitar after multiple surgeries left him with a permanently damaged finger, and it shows-he takes even more of a back seat to Mosshart this time around, with his vocal contributions audibly toned down and an absence of any truly mind-bending riffs.

The arrangements on Ash & Ice feel threadbare at points, with the space between Mosshart's luxuriating vocals and the incessant blips of a drum machine growing wider with every track. The Kills have always been a tight duo, even when touring; a drummer has never before been a part of their musical equation, and the presence of synthetic beats is glaring on Ash & Ice.

Certain moments glimmer brighter than others in the murky depths ("Doing It to Death," "Impossible Tracks," "Whirling Eye," and "Siberian Nights" are the highlights), but the kinetic urgency that hummed under the surface has dissipated and the album mostly just moseys along for 13 tracks. The effortlessly cool rock 'n' roll attitude they've long embodied has been traded in for muted ennui, and by album's end, you're left feeling unsatisfied by what The Kills have to offer. (

Author rating: 5/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10


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