Album Review: “Kill For Love” by the Chromatics



Album cover: “Kill for Love”

For anyone who has seen Nicolas Winding Refn’s film, Drive, with Ryan Gosling, or for those who are for better or worse, hopelessly in love with the 80’s (I raise my hand here), you’ve probably heard the Chromatics before. Maybe Ruth Radelet’s voice came up on Pandora, Spotify, or in films like Drive, their sound is unmistakable. I was at a wedding recently for a couple in their early thirties. Still young and hip as far as I’m concerned, however, the music at their wedding was about as sexy as my Nani’s yellowed high-rise panties and frankly, hopelessly lame. Are DJ’s and the general public aware of just how much music has come out between then and now?

If you’re interested to know, even in just the last decade, there have been some truly spectacular, unique, and sparkling albums that have been born. Pitchfork, a fantastic music based website, showcases the latest and greatest music discussions, reviews, and interviews with the eclectic range of artists circulating worldwide today. Pichfork published an article for the top 100 albums from the last decade, Pitchfork provides a brief description, album title and artist, and the cover art. Explore, read, listen, share, and enjoy!

I wanted to write my own review about the newest album from one of my favorite bands, the Chromatics. Although it was released back in March of 2012, it’s still refreshing and exciting. Some may have heard their other albums, “Night Drive”, “In Shining Violence”, Plaster Hounds”, or from the “Drive” soundtrack. “Kill for Love” is the groups fourth studio album and it’s the first in five years. With 17 tracks to choose from, it’s not hard to get wrapped up in Ruth Radelet’s smokey, sexy, night time web. It’s not just Ruth who makes the Chromatics complete, there is also Adam Miller who is on guitar and vocoder, Nat Walker on drums and synthesizer, Johnny Jewel the producer, and Ruth Radelet on vocals of course, as well as the guitar and synthesizer.

Wondering what they sound like or who they are? Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan writes, the “Chromatics formed in the Pacific Northwest as a rickety no-wave band more than a decade ago, but re-emerged in the mid-2000s with a revamped lineup and a new sound that nicely coincided with a resurgence of interest in the slow, dreamy, not-always-Italian dance-pop subgenre known as Italo disco. As with other acts on New Jersey-based Italians Do It Better, a label co-founded by group mastermind Johnny Jewel, Chromatics didn’t just incorporate the vocoders and vintage synth arpeggios of the turn-of-the-1980s originals, they added the brittle guitars, dubby reverb, and urban dread of post-punk.” I’ve always thought of the Chromatics as an undeniably sexy, tense, and robotic sound. Something I could press play on, plug in my multi-colored chili Christmas lights, and lay down knowing that I won’t need to get up to press next for at least the next hour.

The Quietus, an online news forum, deemed “Kill for Love”, “one of the classiest and most romantic albums of 2012.” Lucy Jones, the author of The Quietus article, wrote, “Cellos, tubular bells, cymbals, shuffle beats, bubbling guitars, synths and crepuscular vocals colour the picture. It’s not in the least predictable: on ‘Lady’, there’s a beat, which recalls ‘Gimme Some More’ by Busta Rhymes (Jewel is a hip hop fan). The album is sexy with an undertow of menace and tension; sometimes unsettling, always rich.” This album is almost like a painting, artfully arranged, colorful, textured, and incorporates a broken hearted, searching for something, story line.

Pitchfork’s Marc Hogan also writes, “hearing “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”, which stretches “Eye of the Tiger”-like guitar tension into an eight-minute treatise on loneliness and includes the album’s first male lead vocal, rendered cyborg-like by a vocal harmonizer. Or take the vampire-pallid lament “Running From the Sun”, another male-led track, based on piano chords reminiscent of those found on Cyndi Lauper’s “Time After Time”. Fans who discovered Chromatics through Drive will find plenty of easy entry points here.” The Chromatics is the best of both worlds; they’re the salt and the pepper, the sun and sunglasses, they are beauty and brains. They manage to honor the music of the past while moving forth and making their music, uniquely theirs. Gently borrowing from another era, giving their audio child of 2012, a sound somewhere between 1980 and now.

The Chromatics

The Chromatics, looking luscious.

Ultimately, this album bubbled up recently for me, nearly two years after the fact. The Chromatics has resurfaced in my life this fall. Whether it’s feelings of melancholy, loneliness, or finding my place again here at St. Lawrence as a senior whose spent a junior year away. This album has resonated in the loneliest corners of my soul that I didn’t even realize were empty. On a campus with what I feel to be, many strangers, hearing Ruth Radelet’s voice somehow comforts me. Sometimes when it feels like no one else in your world can understand what and how it is that you’re feeling, it’s music that saves the day. Sometimes it’s the beat and the poetic verses that sit by your side as you cry or can pump you up during a run. “Kill for Love” can do both of those things, just press play. I suggest trying track #2, Kill for Love or #14, At Your Door. And please, always continue the quest for quality, artful, and thoughtfully rendered music. Pitchfork is always there to help and so am I! 

<3 DJ Hans



The beautiful Ruth Radelet.

If you’d like to read a reputable review on “Kill for Love”, Pitchfork, as always, does it again.

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