THE KILLS

EASY ACTION, SUPER MAGNIFICENT ACTION TRIO

Chop Suey, 324-8000, $6

9 p.m. Fri., July 12

To buy the Kills' PR, you'd have to

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Dead Sexy

The Kills' Black Rooster EP is the hottest, filthiest record of the summer.

THE KILLS

EASY ACTION, SUPER MAGNIFICENT ACTION TRIO

Chop Suey, 324-8000, $6

9 p.m. Fri., July 12

To buy the Kills' PR, you'd have to believe they're surviving solely on nicotine and bloodlust.

Their band bio for San Francisco's Dim Mak Records catches the frenzied vibe nicely: "We wanted a new underground. . . . Our own lawless left field Bonnie & Clyde. . . . There's a feeling of indestructibility whirling in the air now, getting caught in our hair and teeth and we never sleep anymore. + We got a bird in our hand."

But even lawless left fielders have to catch a few winks every now and again, no matter how much indestructibility gets caught in their . . . um, teeth. Which is where, in the middle of a Detroit afternoon, we catch up with VV and Hotel, the Florida-London connection that makes up the Kills.

("Oooh . . . if you want coherent answers," says VV, in her soft, sleepy Florida drawl, "you'd better call back in a little while.")

Hours later, Hotel is a little more focused, though still a bit woozy. And as the conversation rolls, we discover a salient fact about the Kills—despite the enigmatic press faces, the sinister name, and a promising first record that sounds in places like the Seeds dipped in chicken blood, VV and Hotel are genuine sweethearts. After a fashion, of course.

The record in question is Black Rooster EP, a five-song, 18-minute item that's bringing the Kills a lot more attention than they'd anticipated.

"It's been very unexpected," says Hotel. "Even the reaction at the shows—where it's just the two of us and a drum machine—has been incredibly positive."

Rather than delivering a stripped-down version of the band, the Kills' live show presents the duo in their truest form. After all, when VV and Hotel went into London's Toe Rag studios last year to put the record down, it was, similarly, just the two of them plus their longtime desire to collaborate.

They had made initial steps in that direction before, when VV was living in Florida (she's since relocated to England). But the process was time-consuming and unpredictable; VV and Hotel "wrote together" by sending raw mixes of songs to each other via airmail across the Atlantic. So their collaborative desires, as Hotel reports it, finally came together only when they began taping in London.

"We weren't really sure what had happened," he says. "But for the first time, it sounded right."

To these ears, the overriding sound on the album is best described as nasty—the instruments bleed all over everything, muffled drums cut through guitar fuzz like splintered steel staples, and the whole thing sounds covered in years of grime.

"Yeah!" Hotel responds. "Good! That's the sound we wanted."

But there's more than audio infidelity to the Kills' schematics. With the barest openly sexual language—"Kids wanna fuck and fight/In the basement" goes the title cut's unarguable chorus, providing the album's sole F-word—Black Rooster EP turns out to be one of the sexiest releases in recent memory. And not that airbrushed, belly-ringed Shakira/Aguilera/J.Lo effluvia, either, which is to say the pointless adoration of a thoroughly manufactured image. That's one of the games they run on us, trying to get us to believe that ideal sex is slim-hipped, pneumatically inflated, and flawlessly scented, whereas we, the rank and file, are frequently spotty and sleepy and funky.

Thus, what makes Black Rooster EP so sexed-up is its attention to the sounds and rhythms of our natch'l carnal selves. At certain points, the music, while entirely devoid of sexual lyrical content, sounds precisely like a couple of horny teenagers a half-hour before Mom gets home, trying to figure out what goes where and utterly willing to just ram it in someplace, dammit, if they can't get it figured out in about three more seconds.

Part of that horniness comes from the interplay between VV's narcotic voice— at once laconic and seductive—and Hotel's—whose delivery comes across like a barely suppressed growl. But it's also in the slippery timing and arrangements (check the opening drum syncopation that kicks into a drunken bent-string intro on "Black Rooster"), indicating that the Kills know exactly what sound they're after, happy studio accidents notwithstanding.

Asking Hotel about that studio process reveals a number of unsurprising influences.

"Yeah, both VV and I are big fans of the Velvet Underground, John Cale's drone stuff, . . . and Captain Beefheart, obviously"—Black Rooster EP contains a loving, fuzzed-out rendition of the Captain's classic "Dropout Boogie" from Safe as Milk—"really, anything that merges noise and melody. That's where we meet; that's the stuff we both love. That might be why this record came together so easily.

"People have come up to us after shows and said, 'I'd love to see you guys with a drummer.' But," he concludes with somnolent self-assurance, "I like what the two of us have done together."

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