Following 2016s Ash & Ice The Kills Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince have taken the time afforded by 2020 to collect 20 lesser-known tracks from between 2002 and 2009. B-sides, radio sessions, and covers from various 7” vinyl and CD-singles are all featured here including some of the group’s earliest recordings.
Little Bastards shows that even early on, The Kills had a very decisive direction. A lot of these tracks are very raw recordings but the stripped-down sound really suits the vibe of most of these songs. The swagger and dirt on display are full of hooks, many sounding like they were put together quickly once a beat or guitar riff was put down. A lot of the songs also feature the Roland 880 which the pair affectionately referred to as “Little Bastard” during the time period these songs were written. The machine definitely defines a certain time for the group and it’s on full display here. The album opens up with “Superpowerless”, a b-side of 2008s “Last Day of Magic” 7” single. The song is so catchy you might wonder how it ended up being a b-side. The beat in this song is infectious and the repetitive chorus will be stuck in your head in no time. Many of the songs that follow all have strong rhythmic foundations with repetitive pounding beats and raw guitars. “Raise Me” a previously unreleased demo from 2009, is a real gem with another hooky chorus from Mosshart, and “Night Train” (a digital-only bonus track from 2008s Midnight Boom) is another highlight with Hince’s guitars sounding like a distorted tidal-wave of sound. Covers recorded by the band are also included, Jonathan Fire Eater‘s “The Search For Cherry Red”, Screamin’ Jay Hawkins “I Put a Spell On You”, and Serge Gainsbourg’s “La Chanson de Slogan” which is retitled “I Call it Art” here. It’s one of the quieter moments on the album and definitely one of the standouts. The band really makes it their own by replacing the originals keys and string parts with minimal guitars and a more introspective feel. The XFM Session version of “Love is a Deserter” is the one live track and it brings added urgency to the song not heard on the studio version. Finally, “Jewel Thief” is the oldest track included having been recorded before the group had even decided on their name. It’s interesting to hear as the sound of the band people would come to know was already prevalent on this early track.
Despite the stretch of time these songs were recorded over, Little Bastards still has a cohesive feel which is a real testament to how strong the original vision of Mosshart and Hince was. Fans of the band will definitely want to pick this up as having all these rare or hard to find tracks collected in one release is just too good to pass up.