Defining what is pop music can be unbelievably difficult these days. What was a genre that remained firmly planted in the roots of top 40 radio has expanded into the worlds of hip hop, alternative and indie rock. Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart took pop by the balls on their latest full length, Midnight Boom, injecting it with a cream filling of dirty beats, infectious melodies and musical elements of glam rock, blues and art rock. The result of this concoction is simply one of the most enjoyable albums of 2008 thus far.
After turning many heads with their albums Keep On Your Mean Side and No Wow, Midnight Boom could be the one that really takes their music to a whole new level. For album number three, all of the elements we've grown to love from "VV" and "Hotel" are most definitely still there, giving us an album jam-packed with attitude and sex appeal. What else would you want from a rock record?
The album begins with the single "U.R.A. Fever," combining with worlds of trip-hop and dirty rock. Although the structure of the track is relatively simple, you'll have a difficult time getting it out of your head. There are just enough guitar licks and subtle nuances to the beat to keep it interesting. Fans of Spank Rock will notice a change of flavor on tracks such as "Cheap And Cheerful" and "Black Balloon," which had additional programming and production from Alex Epton, aka Armani XXXCHANGE.
One favorite on this album is the powerful "Tape Song," featuring one of the strongest hooks on the disc. This marks one of the times on this record that Mosshart really lets loose vocally, as she wails "you gotta go steal ahead." The production remains relatively simple, with a click-track type drum machine beat and bursts of fat guitar chords, keeping the main focus on those amazing vocals. She teeters right on that line between hot and scary, and it rules.
"Getting Down" lets Hince take a bit of the vocal spotlight, sharing the mic with Mosshart. The contrast of their styles magnifies the two different elements of The Kills, showing off the chemistry that makes them so damn fascinating. The amps then get turned up a bit on the explosive "Hook And Line," a track that most definitely has the potential to find some love on US radio waves. Well, at least on those that are run by people that have an active interest in music, which seems to be few and far between these days. This song is a monster, sounding like early PJ Harvey but with stronger pop sensibilities.
Midnight Boom is an album of extremes, going from explosive to quiet in the blink of an eye, yet never losing a common thread of melody. Jamie Hince and Alison Mosshart have offered up some of their finest tracks to date, showing that two musicians can make a lot of noise while never bombarding the listener with unnecessary bullshit. To put it simply, this is a brilliant pop album, at least under my own personal definition of pop.
"Cheap And Cheerful"