Shame on me for sitting on this album since its release back in March. The fourth studio album from Portland, Oregon's Chromatics, Kill For Love carries an intimidating run time of nearly 90 minutes, the main reason I've put off listening to it for so long. That's quite a commitment when you like to listen to new albums while relaxing with the headphones on as I do. So I may be late getting to this one, but no less enthusiastic given the fantastic music it contains.
Chromatics have gone through quite a lot of changes since their 2003 debut album. Only guitarist Adam Miller remains from their original four piece lineup. The addition of vocalist Ruth Radelet, drummer Nat Walker and multi-instrumentalist/producer Johnny Jewel also brought a completely new musical direction to the band. Gone was their early, noisy punk sound, replaced by music rooted in synth-pop and Italo-disco.
There are drum machine beats and electronics aplenty on Kill For Love, but Chromatics music also is guitar heavy. It's also quite dark and moody, although there are a number of truly gorgeous sounding tracks here as well. With 17 tracks spread across the 90 minute album, there is plenty of room to experiment, stretch out and delve into various moods and tempos. The only tracks that really didn't work for me were some of the shorter instrumentals like "The Eleventh Hour" and "Dust To Dust" which serve more as interludes on the album's journey than proper songs.
The album opens with their stunning cover of Neil Young's "Into The Black", stripped down to guitar, Radelet's vocals and some ambient backing. It's a beautiful piece of work. The ballad "Birds Of Paradise" stands out with its piano work, while "Running From The Sun" also features prominent piano and electronically altered vocals. "There's A Light Out On The Horizon" is by far the best instrumental on the album, a throwback to early electronic music.
Other highlights include "The Page", one of the more danceable tracks with a killer guitar line. "Lady" has classic disco written all over it while "These Streets Will Never Look The Same" has guitar work reminiscent of Stevie Nick's "Edge Of Seventeen", vocals run through a vocoder and a relentless beat. Amazingly, even with its length, Kill For Love never loses its consistent greatness. A top 2012 release.
Kill For Love was released March 26, 2012 on the Italians Do It Better label.