Sex, drugs, rock 'n roll and The Kills.

First three adjectives that come to mind when listening to this album:

Three favorite songs on album:
"Pull A U"
"Gypsy Death & You"
"Monkey 23"

Drum machine, pounding electric guitar, and the lyrics "Superstition is / Your modern eye / With original skin / And original lie" is the first hit I take with The Kills. A mere minute and fifty-one seconds later, I am completely overwhelmed by Alison Mosshart's elongated scream...and this is only the first track.

Recorded in 2003, Keep On Your Mean Side was the first full length album from The Kills’ Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince. Since then, they've produced two other full length albums: No Wow, and the latest Midnight Boom.

Keep On Your Mean Side is blaring at times. Heavy guitars, sexy vocals, yet in the calmest of songs, I realize how diverse and talented this band truly is. Granted, they lack some of the composure (in the lyrical sense) that comes with the later records, but this album is still unexpectedly enticing. Alison is able to effortlessly blend her vague, brash vocals to the beat of Jamie's thundering riffs.

One of the more curious elements of this album is the recorded telephone messages left by Alison (I'm guessing). One of these messages falls toward the end of “Superstition” while the other is its own complete track entitled "Hand.” These messages are utterly bizarre. The first one (on “Superstition”) is a complete blur of what sounds like drug-induced mumblings. The gist of it goes something like this..."Honey, no, it's probably true..Oh my god..I just..Uh..you know..attempt to hustle..it's an attempt to hustle..." After coming across these, I start to wonder if perhaps this album was recorded under the influence (Not that there’s anything wrong with that). After thinking about this possibility for a while, I realized that those lyrics that had once perplexed me (such as the first lines from "Fried My Little Brains," "Got six troubles, on my back / Like six little milk teeth, all gone bad / Won't move over, won't get gone / Won't move over”), no longer mattered. I started to focus on Mosshart and Hince’s ability to use their vocals as instruments. The way the words go up and down, pausing, abruptly stopping, and blurring to form sounds unrecognizable as words at times embodies free form music with or without lyrics.

All in all, I would have to say that this album is a tremendous first effort from a band that continues to astound me. On a side note, if you ever get the chance to check them out in concert, do yourself a favor and go. It will be well worth the twenty or so dollars that you would normally just spend on your prohibition era cocktails and American Apparel t-shirts.

Album design:
The album looks like a worn police identification chart complete with mug shots and fingerprints. The mug shots showcase Alison and Jamie in their all their hip, grungy glory. And just in case you weren't convinced, you get two more full pages of the duo posing on the inset.

There are type written notes (as well as more photos) to Jamie and Alison from Kid Tsunami on the inset of the liner notes. These notes and photos are visually fascinating, but don’t offer much substance.

Next Up:
Metric, Grow Up and Blow Away (2007)