Review: Chromatics – Kill For Love

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Fittingly, Chromatics’ sumptuous new LP opens with a sultry reconstruction of Neil Young’s 1976 classic, ‘Hey Hey, My My (Into The Black)’, a track that considers the merits of artistic reinvention. Since their formation over a decade ago, Chromatics have abandoned their lo-fi ‘noise-rock’ approach & developed a mature, brooding brand of synth-pop. ‘Kill for Love’ is a mesmeric realization of their vision – a 90-minute journey through a film-noir dreamscape.

Whilst the LP’s 17-track length initially seems daunting, standout tracks are sprinkled lavishly throughout. The title track is an energetic pop single, ‘Running From the Sun’ is an 80’s throwback featuring auto-tuned male vocals reminiscent of Bon Iver, and ‘Broken Mirrors’ is a sparse, moody seven-minute instrumental. ‘There’s a Light out on the Horizon’ is particularly captivating. It is a sparse arrangement, led by a futuristic synth line & featuring only one brief line of human dialogue – a mysterious answer-machine message from a worried (ex?) lover. The message, a robotic voice informs us, is deleted.

Perhaps inevitably for a record of this length, some tracks fail to scale these heights. For example, one can’t help but feel that ‘These Streets Will Never Look the Same’ would benefit being just a few minutes shorter. Indeed, the album closer (‘No Escape’) feels rather anticlimactic – a laboured fourteen minutes of redundant noise.

Despite these shortcomings, the Portland four-piece should be delighted with their efforts. Like Neil Young, they have found success by taking their music in a daring new direction. Perfecting the blueprint they set out in their previous LP, ‘Night Drive’, Chromatics have found their groove. On the opener, Ruth Radelet claims that it’s “better to burn out, than to fade away” – on this form, Chromatics are unlikely to do either.

4 STARS

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