The Kills aren’t afraid to try new things—in fact, they thrive on it. The English-American rock duo’s 2003 debut album Keep on Your Mean Side boasted a distinct hypnotic rock sound laced with punk and blues influences and quotable lyrics; a departure from the radio-ready, manufactured rock sound of the late ’90s. It was clear that vocalist Alison Moss-Hart and guitarist Jamie Hince were a dream team, perfectly complementing one another’s musical talents to create an irresistible new sound. Over the last two decades, the duo has continued to innovate within the rock genre, honing their gritty yet dreamy vibe across a batch of cult-classic albums—each one more daring than the last.
Seven years after 2016’s Ash & Ice, the band’s new album, God Games, is a mesmerizing tour de force that cements The Kills’ status as indie rock icons. As usual, crafting it meant stepping out of their comfort zones. For Hince, the biggest departure from the band’s usual creative process stemmed from building his own studio, a space where the duo could have free reign to develop God Games’ 12 electrifying tracks.
“I didn’t really need to explain what I had in my head to anybody, I could just make it myself. So that was really liberating,” he reflects. For Mosshart, writing songs on piano instead of guitar was a departure from prior albums. “It was just giving me so many ideas, hearing a completely different sound played. It changed my rhythm, changed my melodies,” she says.
The pair’s open-minded attitude helped them find the beating heart of God Games. Hince’s pulsing guitar mixes with dashes of brass and electronica, chopped up for an enticing live-performance effect. “We didn’t want to fix all the human stuff,” he noted of the album’s pared-down production. The album’s lyrics have a similarly eclectic bent: Climate change is the focal point of a track named “103” (as in degrees), while the thrumming “Wasterpiece” provides cheeky commentary on fame.
For all its peering into the darker corners of reality, God Games ends on an optimistic note, with the rhythmic outro “Better Days” hinting at good things to come. This attitude is, perhaps, a product of the album being developed during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Kills had been touring for three years before lockdowns forced them to take a break and gave them time to work on new material. With the release of God Games and the world largely reopened, the notion of returning to the stage is a welcome one.
“My dream is to go back on tour around the entire world again because it’s been a minute and we miss everybody in everywhere,” Mosshart says with a laugh. As for Hince’s dream: “I’d like to have another record out much, much quicker.” Cue a group laugh. Whether their next project takes months or years, it will be worth the wait.
Photography Jonny Marlow
Fashion Xander Ang
Makeup Lilly Keys (A-Frame)
Hair Clayton Hawkins (A-Frame)
Photo assistant Lance Willams
Stylist assistant Juliannah Schram