The Kills and Savages: one has punch, the other a brand

For some reason I felt like comparing the albums by these two bands today and I acknowledge that their music is not 1:1 the same but the use of heavy bass lines, strong female vocals and an air of danger that is at its best sensual, made me link them together quite easily.

Let’s start with The Kills whose 5th studio album „Ash & Ice“ has been just released and…well. I gotta admit, I never was the biggest The Kills-fan to begin with. I think they write amazing singles but their albums never fully excite me. Their new record is most successful when it puts Alison Mosshart’s vocals front and center with a steady bassline and it falls absolutely flat, whenever Jamie Hince takes the mic. It’s not even Hince’s fault, he has a nice enough voice but Alison is such a force that it’s just a bad comparison. Who would go to a Michelle Williams show if Beyoncè played next door?

„Ash & Ice“ starts incredibly strong with „Doing it to Death“. It’s one hell of a sensual and sinister song, a mood that suits the duo. But after the third and fourth variation of a song like this, it becomes hard to stay interested. The Kills are not the biggest melody-makers and it wouldn’t be too bad with their kind of music if it would simply pack more punch. It doesn’t, though. 

As it is, the songs start to meander and smoother, more melancholic tracks like „Days of Why and How“ simply drown instead of being a standout. It might be unfair to assume but I feel like they can’t get out of their brand and comfort zone and seem to be caught in an endless repetition of their „sound“.

It’s a damn shame, to be honest. If you look at a band like The White Stripes – who had their brand down to a ‚T‘ – it’s not impossible. They kept their sound tight as hell but still managed to vary every single song on every single album.

And only to give a more recent example – albeit with a few more band members – Savages just released their sophomore and kind of managed just that with „Adore Life“. Now, the Savages’ sound is more frantic, more dangerous. Where The Kills are charming but sinister, Savages are full-on terrifying, their smile already betraying their intentions. Whereas „Ash & Ice“ starts smooth, cool and catchy, „The Answer“ dives deep into confusion and nearly psychedelic hectic and Jenny Beth’s vocals tell a whole story (oh, and that voice is equally haunting live).

Savages have the punch. The tension is there for the whole length of their album and songs like „Evil“ might give you, dear reader, an idea of why I thought it would be a good idea to compare these two bands. The heartbeat is there, the movement that The Kills have when they’re good is omnipresent on „Adore Life“ and can put you in a trance if you let it. Now, Savages are more ambitious, „Evil“ could have just as well be a lost and forgotten Danzig-song when it comes to the vocal line.  

I would be mad if I wouldn’t mention the words „Post Punk“ and „80s“. Maybe it is the punk that doesn’t even try to be subtle on this album, maybe it’s the fact that Savages have released two, The Kills have already released five albums but personally, one band has released an album that is exciting, fun and dangerous and the other has added a few new (and fewer great) songs to their discography but nothing more.

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