By Brian Amick
American indie duo The Kills returned to the forefront of rock radio late last year with their first studio album in seven years, God Games. The time off hasn’t lessened their power, with an album that made many of the Best of 2023 lists, but it nearly didn’t happen under The Kills banner.
Guitarist/keyboardist Jamie Hince said that it was initially intended as a side project that “wasn’t like The Kills.” However, it soon became apparent that it was exactly the sound they had established over the course of their history, minimalist with maximum impact.
The Independent, in its best of the year list, describes the album’s vocals by stating, “Alison Mosshart croons like a sci-fi Siouxsie Sioux and a hex is cast on LA.” Her hypnotic vocals, paired with Hince’s raw, charged guitar work, make for a sound that is stylish in an unmistakable way.
Coming in under 40 minutes throughout the course of 12 tracks, God Games is impactful in its brevity. Dual lead singles “New York” and “LA Hex” set the tone, while the titular track has a thumping rhythm that sticks with you.
On that song, which matches the album’s artwork, Mosshart sings, “Like a matador, they’ll adore you/For every heart you tore through/And like every matador before you/They’re praying for the bulls to gore you.”
Passionate lyrics like that, underscored by edgy guitar riffs and pulsing drums, are what Mosshart and Hince have made their name on throughout their history as a duo. While God Games may not have any songs with the notoriety of past efforts like “Future Starts Slow” or “Doing It To Death,” it reminds the listener of the unrelenting intensity of classic Kills. Twenty years after their debut album, Keep on Your Mean Side, it’s clear that there’s nothing slow about this group’s future.