“We were dancing to a beat of our own, flying with our speakers blown.”
For the past week I’ve been constantly listening to Ash & Ice by The Kills. Today I can finally listen to it properly on my record player which I carried up a hill to get home in this ridiculous heat. I wouldn’t mind, but having a knackered disk in my back isn’t too much fun. It’s alright, now I’m seated and playing it as loud as I can. I can associate every record by The Kills with certain points in my life, and since Blood Pressures came out until last Friday it defined certain moments, feelings and people. I fell so heavily in love with that record and to take myself away from it so I could give in to Ash & Ice I thought, would be really hard. I was wrong. Ash & Ice is now defining whatever is going on now- good, bad, average and brilliant. It’s a chaotic safety net.
As I helplessly love this record so, I’ll go through each song. It might be safer for you to just go buy the record and listen to it rather than subject yourself to my ramblings about it.
Doing It To Death: I remember hearing this a couple months ago now, and just playing it over and over again. Something about it just made me realise yet again, why I adore this band. Why they are easily one of the most important bands in my life. There’s something about Jamie and Alison that leaves constantly wanting more and more. I love the line, “Baby lately, the plans we’re making are the shape of things that never come.” It’s a gut feeling that I reckon most feel, but not many want to actually face it. Fuck it. Face it, and carry on.
Heart Of A Dog: Like the above, this ended up being on repeat constantly when I heard it. Every line in this song is apt and if I could every word to this tattooed on my body- I probably would. “It’s life or death why I chew through the chain” is a line that’s just so raw and brutal. I know what it’s like to have parts wander off but for the heart always be loyal. You go back to what you needed in time. It takes time, but you get there. You just need to let it out sometimes, I guess.
Hard Habit To Break: I LOVE the intro to this so much. I think it’s most definitely one of my favourites off the record. Sometimes you’re the bad that someone else wants or needs, and they can take that bad and make it good. In time. I’m pretty sure that this will be amazing to see live, and I’ve seen clips of this where Alison just lets rip and flails her body in ways that if you or I tried to do- we’d end up in hospital. Worth the attempt, right? Pretty cool way to end up in A&E. I love the line “Maybe when the lights fade, maybe it’s my (your/our) mistake.” There’s only so much blame a person can carry before they realise others have played their part too.
Bitter Fruit: At first I just really loved the song. Then I paid close attention to the lyrics and some weird revelation hit me. I can’t decide which lyrics I love the most. It’s between “I gotta save my soul from the bad in you” and “I could pray, but can’t you see the kind of things I pray for are cursing me.” Both are pretty tough lyrics, and easy to identify with. That’s what I love about their songs, they just paint emotions in a way that I never ever could. They take every feeling imaginable and make it something to be proud of- even if it is a truly ugly feeling.
Days Of Why And How: In some ways this reminds me of Rodeo Town, Wait and Baby Says. It’s got that soothing feel to it. I think it has some of the best lyrics on the record: “When I hear your name, it’s a like a freight train. Shake shake shake shake shaking me, off my tracks.” I don’t know if that lyric is for good or bad, but it’s so gorgeous and powerful. I could listen to it forever and not get tired. An impending fear mixed with devotion. That’s just how it goes sometimes.
Let It Drop: I don’t really have much of an opinion on this one, and I think it’s because it’s the one I’ve not really listened to that much. Jamie and Alison have this sound that makes them stand out from everyone else, and I think Let It Drops experiments with this in a really great way. It sounds like they’ve massively pushed themselves with this song, and I think it’ll be one that I end up loving as much as the rest- I just need to stop being attached to other songs on the record to let this one in. However, the line “You’re giving me reasons to turn my teardrops into death threats” is just a gorgeous piece of poetry.
Now, if you have the vinyl copy this is where we take it over to side B.
Hum For Your Buzz: This has that brutal but Blues feel that caused me to first fall heart first in love with them 13 years ago. 13 years ago I heard The Kills and it changed everything for me. Every single time they bring out something new, I just fall more in love with them and I remember exactly what it was that drew me in the first place. Hum For Your Buzz has a beautiful feel of vulnerability surrounding it, and their fearless approach to writing lyrics will always be something I admire and love. “I am a vision you looked for so long at your door sweetheart.” That’s my solid favourite from the song. Subject to change, as ever.
Siberian Nights: The only way to listen to this song is to have to obnoxiously loud. Everything about this just makes you feel like you can overpower any feeling of love or lust a person may have towards you. It’s bold but endearing in its own way. I love the lyric, “I can make you come in threes, I’m halfway to my knees. Am I too close for comfort?” It’s the right kind of filth. The whole song is full of lines that make you feel a bit braver than you are. I guess with lines like “For the tyrants in a rut, I got a love” makes it for us underdogs. I couldn’t imagine getting tired of listening to this song. You pick up different things to love with each listen, and I love their vocals together on this. Check the guitar Jamie uses on this also.
That Love: The Last Goodbye from Blood Pressures probably broke your heart, right? Well, you’re not getting off lightly this time. I read the lyrics to this before I heard it. I’m not sure which is more heartbreaking. However, it’s a song I needed. It’s a song I probably won’t go back and listen to on repeat. It’s a heavy song, emotionally and I think it’ll be a mountain of strength for those who need some form of courage. We all need to be brave at times, there’s no right or wrong time for you to be brave. You just have to do it. I’m not going to pick a line from this, it’s too difficult. Maybe it’s obvious which ones will mean the most. You can’t feel bad for the rest of time.
Impossible Tracks: I adore how menacing this one sounds. It’s got that thumping sound of Future Starts Slow on it, and again, it’s one you need to play insanely loud. “Oh you get what you give, I don’t regret what I did. Well if a real live liar can set you on fire, then don’t you settle for it?” It’s real mean this song, and it makes you feel so tough when you listen to it. I also love the line, “And we hold our smiles inside like we’re holding back the tide.” If I could write something as rebellious as that, I’d be pretty happy. I think this is definitely one of my favourites off the record.
Black Tar: The line, “London’s bloodthirsty” is enough for me to know that I am mad about this song. The imagery in the words is just nothing short of stunning, and it’s just a realisation of why I bloody love The Kills! I’ve never ever doubt my love for them, and I never could. There are just consistently mind-blowing and their lyrics have always been such a huge part of who I am- whoever that may be. Some things you don’t figure out, even when you’re 29. This song makes you want to get in a car, and drive off into the night without looking back.
Echo Home: This has the gentle tones of Baby Says but there is so much sadness in this song. It’s pretty tough to listen to. I’d rather have That Love on repeat than this one because there’s so much overwhelming sadness in it. Every word in this song is just truly gorgeous, and for me this is the one that holds the most weight. It’s the one you play when you miss something/someone that’s been gone for some time. Have hope, because sometimes if the universe doesn’t totally hate you- it all comes back to you again. For me, it’s the line: “And if I take a turn for the worst and I call you on the phone, will you echo home when I call? Won’t you echo back and make it alright.” I know I’m too sensitive for my own good at times, but this line has this wealth of honesty and fragility to it that just breaks your heart. I just adore every single word on this song, and the way Jamie and Alison’s voices fit so perfectly on this song so so much.
Whirling Eye: And now we reach the end of the record with one of the most rowdy songs on the record. I think they’ve saved this one until last so the listener realises they’ve not had enough, and goes back to the start again. The whole song feels like a whirlwind. It sends you into some immense spin that no one can pull you out of. It’s so hypnotic. Alison’s voice on Whirling Eye has this insane urgency to it that makes you feel like you’ve probably joined a cult. If those two are the leaders, sign me up now. It’s definitely a song to make you feel like a total rebel to and it’ll make you want to ditch everyday life and hit the dusty road as fast as you can. Who cares where you go, just get there.
I could have easily summed this all up with saying this is the best record I’ve heard all year or just condensed my love for it. But the thing is, The Kills pull something out of me that nothing else ever has. They hit you with this urgency and this need to get whatever it is inside you all the way out. They have no filter when it comes to doing so, so why should you or I?
I will always have a soft spot for Keep On Your Mean Side, No Wow, Midnight Boom and Blood Pressures but with Ash & Ice, I feel like something completely different. I don’t know what it is. Maybe it’s that feeling of an old friend coming back home, it had been a few years since Blood Pressures and to finally have something new is just a truly great feeling. They could create their own version of the phonebook and I would still be madly in love with it. Sure there are many bands that I feel a connection with, but with The Kills it is this secret connection in my brain bound by their songs that creates this. This doesn’t always happen, and when you feel it, you cling onto it. It’s your own way of getting through the day and slowly, but surely, finding some self-acceptance. Ash & Ice means a lot for a lot of reasons- none of which will be mentioned but all I know is that it is bloody great to have them back.