The Student Playlist

Showcasing the Best New Music, Curating the Classics

REVIEW: The Kills – ‘Ash & Ice’ (Domino)

the_kills_ash_and_iceby Ollie Rankine

It was sometime after the release of their 2011 album Blood Pressures that The Kills guitarist, Jamie Hince, slammed his hand in a car door which consequently rendered one of his fingers totally useless. Although Hince has undergone five operations in an attempt to return the use of such an essential tool of playing music, the severity of his injury has forced a total shakeup in his guitar playing technique. Alongside bandmate Alison Mosshart, the Anglo-American duo have seemingly managed adapt to their unfortunate circumstances and have finally returned with a fifth record, Ash & Ice.

Retaining the familiar gritty, lo-fi charm, The Kills have combatted Hince’s musical immobility through a new exploration of sampling and synths. Although the forced sonic detour on Ash & Ice has assisted in rejuvenating The Kills’ often-murky sound, the contrasting relationship between the guitar and electronics make tracks appear overcrowded and, on occasion, unsuited for the desired setting. However, this isn’t always the case. Tracks such as ‘Bitter Fruit’ and ‘Impossible Tracks’ brings a newfound, menacing roll to the melody that appears far bigger than any previous Kills tracks that use a similar sinister drive. On the other end of the spectrum, ‘Siberian Nights’ provides a fresh groove with pulsing string arrangements and suitably accompanying vocals from Mosshart giving Ash & Ice some diversity that The Kills have sometimes previously lacked.

Although The Kills’ recent limitations are certainly noticeable, and the expansion of their usual concoction of blues-heavy guitar hooks may not be as on point as they may have hoped, there is however a new base style has been established which can no doubt be built upon. (6/10)

Listen to Ash & Ice here via Spotify, and tell us what you think below!

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