Keep on Your Mean Side

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Keep on Your Mean Side
The Kills - Mean Side.jpg
Studio album by
ReleasedMarch 10, 2003
RecordedNovember 2002 at Toe Rag Studios, London[1]
GenreGarage rock
ProducerThe Kills
The Kills chronology
Black Rooster EP
Keep on Your Mean Side
No Wow
Singles from Keep on Your Mean Side
  1. "Fuck the People"
    Released: 2003
  2. "Fried My Little Brains"
    Released: 14 April 2003
  3. "Pull A U"
    Released: 20 October 2003

Keep on Your Mean Side is the debut album by UK based indie rock band The Kills. Originally released on March 10, 2003, through Domino Recording Company, it was later reissued on May 4, 2009, with five additional bonus tracks.

The song "Wait" was featured in the film Children of Men (2006), while the song "Monkey 23" was featured in the film The Beat That My Heart Skipped (2005) and in Adam Curtis' BBC documentary All Watched Over by Machines of Loving Grace Part 1 (2011) while "Cat Claw" and "Wait" were both overheard in the Criminal Minds Season 3 episode, "Doubt". "Fried My Little Brains" was used in the Sherlock Series 3 episode, "The Sign of Three" and the game Gran Turismo 6


Following international touring, they entered Toe Rag Studios, where The White Stripes had recorded their album Elephant, to record Keep on Your Mean Side, mostly on 8-track, in just 2 weeks. Distributed in the US and UK by Rough Trade Records, the album was similar in style to the EP, veering from the Velvets-esque stomp of "Wait" to the noisy, dirty garage punk blues of "Fuck the People" and dark psychedelia of "Kissy Kissy". The record was well received by the music press, though the White Stripes comparisons would not go away.

Maintaining an anti-careerist, anti-music industry attitude, the band rarely granted interviews. Rather, they got the music press to come to them with their minimalist yet powerful live shows (which also included the drum machine), the pair maintaining an air of tension by subverting the expected role of stage performer. Mosshart chain-smoked while singing, rarely speaking to the audience, whilst Hince violently ripped blues riffs from his instrument. At a New York City show following the ban on public smoking, Mosshart went on stage with three bottles of water, lit up a cigarette and proceeded to smoke constantly from the first song to the last note of the set.


Professional ratings
Aggregate scores
Review scores
AllMusic4/5 stars[3]
Blender3/5 stars[4]
The Boston Phoenix3/4 stars[5]
Drowned in Sound9/10[6]
The Guardian4/5 stars[7]
Mojo4/5 stars[8]
Q3/5 stars[10]
Rolling Stone3/5 stars[11]
Uncut4/5 stars[12]

Reviews for Keep on Your Mean Side were wide-ranging but mostly positive with a few exceptions. It has a normalized rating of 70 out of 100 on Metacritic based on 18 professional reviews.[2] Rolling Stone was complimentary saying the music was "dark, kick-ass garage rock" and the album was "a bruising disc of post-modern blues"[11] echoed by AllMusic's "sneering, sexy blues-punk" that's "relatively fresh and distinctive".[3]

Track listing[edit]

2."Cat Claw"3:32
3."Pull a U"3:23
4."Kissy Kissy"5:02
5."Fried My Little Brains"2:08
6."Hand" (incorrectly labeled as "Gypsy Death & You" on original album sleeve)0:50
8."Black Rooster"4:24
10."Fuck the People"4:17
11."Monkey 23"3:06
12."Gypsy Death & You" (incorrectly labeled as "Hand" on original album sleeve)2:11
2009 Reissue Bonus Tracks
14."Jewel Thief"2:47
15."Sugar Baby"4:20
16."The Search for Cherry Red" (Jonathan Fire Eater cover)2:58
17."Dropout Boogie" (Captain Beefheart cover)4:07


The Kills

Chart performance[edit]

Charts (2003) Peak
UK Albums Chart 47
French Albums Chart 75


  1. ^ "The Kills Keep on Your Mean Side (reissue + bonus tracks) > promotional copy". Domino USA. Retrieved 29 April 2010.
  2. ^ a b "Keep On Your Mean Side by The Kills". Metacritic. Retrieved June 17, 2011.
  3. ^ a b Phares, Heather. "Keep on Your Mean Side – The Kills". AllMusic. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  4. ^ True, Everett (May 2003). "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side". Blender (16): 121. Archived from the original on August 17, 2004. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Carioli, Carly (April 3–10, 2003). "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side (Rough Trade)". The Boston Phoenix. Archived from the original on December 24, 2003. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  6. ^ Irvine, Michael (March 9, 2003). "Album Review: The Kills – Keep on Your Mean Side". Drowned in Sound. Retrieved December 11, 2007.
  7. ^ Clarke, Betty (March 7, 2003). "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side". The Guardian. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  8. ^ "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side". Mojo (114): 89. May 2003.
  9. ^ Reid, Brendan (March 31, 2003). "The Kills: Keep On Your Mean Side". Pitchfork. Retrieved June 12, 2019.
  10. ^ "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side". Q (201): 108. April 2003.
  11. ^ a b Relic, Peter (May 15, 2003). "The Kills: Keep on Your Mean Side". Rolling Stone (922): 130. Archived from the original on October 2, 2007. Retrieved August 12, 2007.
  12. ^ "The Kills – Keep on Your Mean Side". Uncut (71): 110. April 2003. Archived from the original on May 19, 2011. Retrieved September 22, 2011.