The Kills

No Wow (RCA)

In the language of analog recording, wowand flutter were terms used to describe the distortion common to the recording process. The title of The Kills' second album is obviously ironic, because the duo's powerful, stripped-down sound is built on a foundation of fuzz, feedback, and distortion. Hotel, a highly original guitarist, carves out huge slabs of exhilarating noise to complement the singing of his partner, VV, an American punk ex-pat who adds to the guitar din while declaiming her dark visions in a flat, unaffected voice. They also use a primitive drum machine, a big no-no for most rock bands, but their music, which builds up incredible tension without ever providing a release, is more akin to experimental '70s outfits like Suicide and Cabaret Voltaire. Songs like "I Hate the Way You Love" and "Murdermile" confront life's little tragedies with a casual grace that's rare in popular music.

 
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