As a happy accident of this devastating, pandemic situation, Domino Records’ boss Laurence Bell came up with the wonderful idea of gathering The Kills’ B sides and rarities in a double album, aptly titled “Little Bastards”: A bunch of 20 lost, hidden-in-digital-platforms gems that the British-American duo released between 2002-09.  All tracks have been remastered by Barry Grint at Alchemy Mastering (London), and as usual, twisted artwork is courtesy of The Kills.

Like many bands, Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince were also working on a new record when the lockdown happened. You know how the story goes. The world collapses, your plans enter the stand-by mode.

Hince admits that he was at first reluctant to publish an old rarities album (No room for nostalgia, thanks!), Mosshart showed some doubts too… Until they both started to listen and revisit their own primitive, “prehistoric” sounds. One guitar, one vocal and a drum machine. That was all at first… and they still sound pretty much like that. So (apparently) simple, so raw. So damn hot. “This lo-fi and anti-everything attitude”, as Hince describes. Thus, expect to hear The Kills’ characteristic artful garage plus Bourbon soaked, electrifying blues rock. 

“Little Bastards” starts with a good pop punch via “Superpowerless” -when Mosshart & Hince practically whisper “Super-power-less”: OMG!-. This song, ‘rescued’ from the 7” EP “Last Day Of Magic” (2008), always makes me jump triumphant/ridiculously. From their very oldest song “Jewel Thief” to the acidly robotic “Passion Is Accurate”, the songs compiled in this double album show us this tandem’s logbook of camaraderie, chemistry and mutual admiration.

Even their demos are bloody gold. Take the never-before-heard “Raise Me” demo (2009), with its groovy -even funky, catchy beat. Such a disturbing music video, by the way! “Kiss The Wrong Side”: sexiest tune ever. Mind the lyrics though! It may serve as a good lesson on how to beat a toxic relationship. 

The absorbing, hypnotic “Night Train” drives you insane with its mantra for the sleepless ones; whilst their sing-along in “Half Of Us” seems as if they were sending a message one another: “The heartbreaking sound of my town/beats the heartbreaking sound of your town”. “London Hates You” is so depressing yet so reassuring, in a (weird) way. The Velvet Underground meets The Jesus and Mary Chain kind of aura. Note: why didn’t they include the last lyrics (“Stand still like a hummingbird…”) in the album’s inner cover? “Baby’s Eyes” reminds us of The Velvet Underground as well (so Lou Reed like). “I Call It Art”, written by the great Serge Gainsbourg and Boris Bergman, was covered by The Kills and included in “Monsieur Gainsbourg Revisited” compilation (2006). It’s simply heartbreaking; so perfect in its musical, lyrical minimalism.

Judging by The Kills’ cover of “Forty Four”, by Howlin’ Wolf, it’s a fact that Mosshart definitely has the blues within her veins. It sounds raw, it goes straight to your guilty conscience. It strikes you and yet it reassures you. The blues sour medicine. This is a song to regret the bad decisions made last night (mind the funny final drums!). Chew raw tobacco and never look back. No further questions added.

They have also included some other great blues versions such as Screamin’ Jay Hawkins’ “I Put A Spell On You” and Dock Boggs’ “Sugar Baby”. Not sure if it kills weed, but no doubt the killer guitars in “Weed Killer”, with a wild Mosshart on vocals, will shake you out. “Love Is A Deserter” (XFM version) doesn’t seem to match this collection very much. Yet, it’s a kickin’ tune. “The Void” contains The Kills’ pure essence: it has the punch, the bluesy guts, the endless road trip to nowhere. By night, of course.

About the near future, who knows -seriously: who knows-, the killer duo claims to have loads of demos and unreleased material from 2009 on; not to mention the album they were already working on before all this sh&% happened. “We want to write a record for the future, not about a pandemic”, as Mosshart points out in a recent interview with “We want to make something incredibly uplifting”, Hince adds (and reassures). Can’t wait. We need a new raw power boost so badly.

The Kills: Little Bastards – Out Now (Domino Records)



Amaia Santana

Good karma brought me here to Manchester, my second home, where you can stay healthy (despite the weather) and young forever, as you can breathe live music in every corner of the city. I do believe in the healing power of music (rock is my life vest) and I'd be so glad to share my passion with you rockers of the world!