Published on November 30th, 2006 | by Hans Fruck0
Kill Devil Hills — The Drought
The water supply’s dwindling, the country’s parched, and another searing summer’s on the way. So there’s a certain grim timeliness to the Kill Devil Hills’ second record, The Drought.
The Drought doesn’t boast as many infectious, hummable tunes as the band’s previous record, Heathen Songs. Instead, this record’s more introspective and, by turns, more raucous and sombre.
The opening track, Did I Damage You?, is a nice example of what the Kill Devil Hills do well. It’s a pitch-black song about drugs and booze, with an aggressive drive and frantic, skittery violin. The country overtones are undeniable, but they’re executed with the kinda aggro and seat-of-your pants playing that could only come from hardarse rockers.
This fusion of country inflections and instrumentation with rock swagger recurs on the extraordinary I Wonder If She’s Thinking of Me. A song about obsessive love (‘I wonder if she’s thinking of me/As she moves to the mirror to undress’), it starts out subdued and end in shouts and sawing violin and harmonica. It’s when they get a little messy, like this, that The Kill Devil Hills are at their best.
Not that the band stick rigidly to one formula. They mix it up with slow, subdued songs like Jesus Train and Drugs, Spice & Silk. Boneyard Rider is another change of pace – with its trumpet flourishes, lyrics, and the storytelling cadence of Brendan Humphries voice, it wouldn’t be out of place on the soundtrack of an old-time Western, like Gunfight at the OK Corral.
Humphries vocals, in fact, are deceptively good throughout the record, seeming at first heartfelt and unfussy, but showing unexpected range and depth after a few listens.
Whether your drug of choice is country or rock, or some cut in between, some part of the The Drought is sure to work its way into your bloodstream.
-Hans Sebastian Fruck