The Kills: God Games (Domino) - review | Under the Radar Magazine Under the Radar | Music Blog for the Indie Music Magazine
Thursday, May 23rd, 2024  

The Kills

God Games

Domino

Oct 26, 2023 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


The Kills have been entertaining us with a terrific blend of roots-blues, post-punk rock ‘n’ roll with surging guitar riffs, and a sassy attitude since their debut in 2003. Laying down a couple of hits and five critically acclaimed studio albums along the way, their collective body of work has set the expectation bar high for God Games.

With a little down time during COVID, guitarist Jamie Hince started writing from a different perspective and hammering out demos with keyboards and trumpet sounds for a possible side-project. But Hince and bandmate—and enigmatic singer—Alison Mosshart realized that these new sonic identities and stretched boundaries would fit well within The Kills’ wheelhouse once developed into the 12 tracks that are now known as God Games. So it goes. . .

Now, fans usually aren’t too keen to hear that one of their favorite bands has been exploring a stylistic shift for their new album, but since it’s been seven years since the revved-up rock grooves of 2016’s brilliant Ash & Ice, any new music by The Kills is a welcome treat. That being said, listeners should approach God Games not with an enthusiastic eagerness but with something more akin to a cautious optimism. After all, this newfound process has resulted in a few dawdling bluesy ballads which isn’t necessarily the band’s strong suit. The title track, along with “LA Hex” and “Blank,” offer little more than a burbling rumble without any real bite.

The good news though is the rest of the album is an interesting and robust mix of the old and the new, starting with opening track and lead single “New York” that sounds as if it was picked up off the cutting room floor of the Ash & Ice sessions and given a new life. Elsewhere, “Love and Tenderness,” “Bullet Sound,” and “Better Days” skulk along a similar musical pathway as the down and dirty blues rock The Black Keys are known for, enhanced by Hince’s scruffy bass lines and buzz saw guitar work, and Mosshart’s fervent vocals. Meanwhile, “Going to Heaven” shows off a melodramatic twist with a Nick Cave-like vibe, corroborating the notion that The Kills are more content on establishing moods rather than grooves.

But fear not, a few gems on God Games contain grooves aplenty and some unexpected, pleasant surprises. “103” glows with a surging warmth, while “Wasterpiece” exudes a grungy attitude and “Kingdom Come” energizes with a bouncy thump and catchy refrain. All three also have those tangible elements that have become synonymous with The Kills—catchy and upbeat sharp driving rhythms, crisply played buzzy guitar licks, and emotionally charged vocals. A few weak spots notwithstanding, God Games shows The Kills are still on top of their game. (www.thekills.tv)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 8/10



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