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Review: The Kills – Little Bastards

The Kills are not your friend. Sure, you can respect them, admire them, you might even love them. They aren’t your friend though, and they never will be. This is a proper duo, the sort of twosome who if they were to be the last two survivors in a post-apocalyptic world, it wouldn’t make a difference to a minute of their day.

The Little Bastards compilation, covering a seven-year run of the act’s early forays, is a hotpot of the styles, sounds and shuffles that have shaped the band. It’s far from a comprehensive overview, but it never claims to be.

It’s the sort of collection that weary apostles will grasp to their heart, reaffirming the adoration they already feel, and hopefully expanding their understanding a touch further. Not every song is likely to hit you, but when it does, you’ll lose a bit of space in your heart for bands who don’t make you feel that this means everything.

Life is far too short to love bands that don’t deserve it, or who don’t deliver songs that jolt you to life, no matter your disposition or the time of day.

‘Superpowerless’ is one such song. It’s the album opener, and as fierce as it was upon release in 2008. Its sadly true I have socks from the same era that are in more frequent rotation than the track, but those socks don’t feel anywhere near as comfortable or as reliable as the song.

When you consider it wasn’t released on an album, it’s a bold claim to say it stands as one of the archetypal songs of the band. Bold and true.

Image credit: Andy Reilly

For two people, The Kills don’t half cover a lot of ground. As you’d expect from the songs that have been jettisoned from their main bodies of work, or the ones that never quite found a home, the diversity on offer is a large part of this release’s charm. Little Bastards might not be an album you return to in its entirety too often, but it’s one you’ll dip in and out of, depending on the mood you’re in.

The hushed and creepy blues of the first section of ‘Half Of Us’ gives way to a clanking, punky shanty. ‘London Hates You’ offers insults and cooing admiration, ‘Blue Moon’ has that earthy swagger that the group has never owned, but which they rejigged in a manner that ensures they are instantly associated with the sound. ‘Run Home Slow’ has all that and more, with added slide and a joyfully sleazy overtone.

There’s also Serge Gainsbourg, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, and Howlin’ Wolf cover versions to enjoy. Whether you’re feeling up or down, optimistic or pessimistic, there’s a song here for you. That’s as true for this compilation as it is for the band’s output.

They’ve been hurt; mentally, emotionally and of course, physically. A serious hand injury to Hince nearly derailed the duo, but with Jamie learning how to torture and tease guitars in a whole new way, The Kills are still alive and kicking as we head into 2021. Alison might have ventured off with The Dead Weather and by herself, but The Kills remain an unbreakable, unshakable team.

If you’ve any sort of musical soul, you should be hoping for more, but more than thankful for what you’ve got.

Little Bastards is released 15th December on Domino Records

All image credits: Andy Reilly

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