Of all places in the country, indie rock duo The Kills picked Benton Harbour, Michigan to record their third album, Midnight Boom. The coastal city off Lake Michigan obviously had a positive effect on Jamie Hince and Alison "VV" Mosshart because their late night recording sessions helped inspire the latest LP's title.
In contrast to the band's previous efforts, Keep On Your Mean Side (2002) and No Wow (2005) that utilized more instrumentation, Midnight Boom is more bare, emphasizing beats to achieve their garage rock sounds. They surprisingly balance a healthy industrial sound throughout the LP in addition to providing catchy melodies and sing-aloud lyrics.
The album opens with "U.R.A. Fever," which could be mistaken for a Nine Inch Nails track, but subsequently transitions to the feminine punk rock track "Cheap And Cheerful." Mosshart joins a short list of rock chicks with attitude, channeling the likes of Shirley Manson ("Tape Song") and PJ Harvey ("Hook And Line").
The London duo masks some often dark and cryptic lyrics with some simple, yet addicting rhythms. You can hear the desperation in "Last Day Of Magic" (lyrics: "What if you move? What if you hide? / There's only so much you can miss / before we both collide"), but can't help lose yourself in the chorus "My little tornado / My little hurricano." It also doesn't help that the band unleashes the pleasant sounding ballad "Black Balloon," a seemingly disheartening contrast to Albert Lamorisse's enchanting 1957 short film The Red Balloon (Le Ballon Rouge), near the album's half-way mark as a way to test if the listeners are really listening.
The Kills are an interesting band because of how comfortable you think their music can make you. That sounds weird, I know, especially when listening to the blunt and freewheeling track "M.E.X.I.C.O." but the band has so much potential to be gentle, as on "Goodnight Bad Morning," that it's hard to not want to follow their musical direction.
In a recent Rolling Stone interview (March 20, 2008), Mosshart described The Kills as "that spirit, that rebelliousness" of rock and roll. Midnight Boom is indicative of that assessment: blow your mind for 30 minutes, rest, then hit repeat.