Flipping Channels: Brit Rock Past and Present With Doves, The Kills and The Horrors


Ah, Anglophilia -- it can be so fulfilling when it comes to UK music-makers like Doves, the Kills and the Horrors, all passing through doors of the fair Fillmore in the next few.

SF first sighted Doves when the group touched down at Bimbo’s 365 Club around the release of the Mercury Prize-nominated, transportive and achingly emotive Lost Souls (Astralwerks/Heavenly, 2000). (Factoid that will make you rub your peepers and wonder where the years went: the Strokes opened for the boys from Manchester at that show.)

Now the tight threesome of Jimi Goodwin and bros Jez and Andy Williams are back in town with a new one, Kingdom of Rust (Astralwerks/Heavenly). The band’s fourth full-length leapfrogs beyond the dreamy, vaguely nostalgic acid-house- and electronica-touched psych of Lost Souls and The Last Broadcast (Heavenly/Capitol, 2002) and reaches out toward exhilarating trip-adelica set to interstellar rock-orchestral overdrive (“The Outsiders”) and John Barry-meets-Free-Design pop symphonics (“Birds Flew Backwards”). Dipping into deliriously hallucinatory, C&W-spiked, Lee Hazlewood-style rumble with Kingdom of Rust’s title track, Doves are looking back, certainly, but with characteristic melancholy not anger. And never discount the touch of grounding humor in, for instance, that song’s references to a decaying urban English landscape: “Distant sound of thunder, moving out on the moors/ Blackbirds flew in and to the cooling towers/ I pack my bags thinking of one of those hours with you.” A chilled, lysergic Popsicle to enjoy with earplugs.

On the darker side of the UK rock spectrum dwell the Kills and the Horrors. Witness the video for the Kills’ handclap-propelled, minimally appointed “Black Balloon,” as vocalist vamp Allison Mosshart trots out the fake fangs and glowers in the shadows like Beatrice Dalle’s understudy in the gritty, bloodsucking love story Trouble Every Day.  Kate Moss drama aside -- the supermodel has been linked for a bit longer than a minute to the Kills’ Jamie Hince -- the duo isn’t afraid of soaking in stick-to-your-ribs, sing-along catchphrases (”Sour Cherry,” “Cheap and Cheerful”) and jawbreaker-crunchy guitar riffs. The Kills fondle proto-punk blues-rock artifacts from the age of Iggy Pop and Lou Reed on their latest, Midnight Boom (Domino, 2008) -- who knows where they’ll purposefully wander next. But you might kill to find out.

And speaking of edge lovers, one must mention the Horrors, tooling around the country with the Kills this time out. The London brooders are playing mostly tracks from their latest surprising stunner, Primary Colours (XL). Drawing from a palette of ambient soundscapes and shimmering synth textures, England’s rock ‘n’ roll chameleons evoke a less codified kind of goth. Color me impressed.  

Doves perform with Wild Light tonight, 5/18, 8 p.m., $27.50
The Kills play with the Horrors and Magic Wands Tuesday, 5/19, 8 p.m., $22.50
Fillmore (Western Addition)
1805 Geary Blvd.

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