The Kills, Little Bastards (Domino)

If The Kills have never quite lived all the way up to their back-to-basics decadent rock n’ roll revivalist potential, it isn’t really their fault. In the unrelentingly puritanical current cultural law setting for white people playing guitar music, anything that gets even remotely grimey is going to be either sanitized or eradicated, and Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have been savvy enough to choose the former. While each Kills album since their inception has demonstrated flashings of visceral, wayward beauty, they’ve never been fully allowed, or allowed themselves, to throw themselves into the oblivion they’ve clearly longed for. Be it due to overly glossy production, misguided stabs at pop radio, or just an overall muzzled vibe, these one-time gutter-rock maestros have eked out a fringe career by stamping down their best instincts. Which is what makes this collection of B Sides and demos great. With some artists, from Bob Dylan to Oasis to Nas, you just KNOW it’s the unreleased stuff is going to be the real shit, and the same goes for The Kills. Little Bastards proves this point right from the jump. The dead-eyed “London Hates You”, trashy lo-fi “Half Of Us”, and back-alley prowler “Raise Me” represent the core essence of what The Kills should have been all this time. Equally revealing are the covers. We’ve got Dock Boggs, Howlin’ Wolf and Screamin’ Jay Hawkins, an unholy trio representing the oddball influences that originally birthed this almost-terrible twosome. For anyone wondering what may have been for these glamorous underachievers, or just looking for a proper intro course, skip all the studio albums and tune right in to Little Bastards.