PREVIEW/BUY THE VINYL HERE
Kill for Love, Chromatics‘ first album since Night Drive, finally gives this loosely associated, prematurely decayed musical aesthetic its magnum opus– and brilliantly transcends it. The moonlit vibe of previous highlights like street-skulking stunner “In the City” or haunting Kate Bush cover “Running Up That Hill” recurs, and various tracks still crackle and pop with the all-too-mortal degradation of vinyl. And despite the unfinished-seeming recording quality of the music videos that preceded the album’s release, the completed product also boasts some of the most engrossing synth-pop songs so far this year.
The 90-minute Kill for Love signals its tour-de-force ambitions from the opening track, a synth-draped cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black)”. As with their past brooding renditions of Bruce Springsteen’s “I’m on Fire” or Dark Day’s “Hands in the Dark”, it’s a thoroughly rewarding pop deconstruction, setting one of singer Ruth Radelet’s most affecting performances against an evocatively restrained backdrop. “There’s more to the picture than meets the eye,” Radelet coos, in what emerges here as a key lyric. There’s more to Kill for Love than the sum of its best songs.
If Kill for Love had been a 10-track LP, with its most immediately striking songs each edited down to around 3 minutes, it would’ve still been impressive. In fact, as recently as an interview posted last month by Self-Titled, Jewel hadn’t yet made up his mind about whether to put out one or two discs. Ultimately, he made the right choice. Closer “No Escape” may not be as immediate as the title track when heard in isolation, but luckily, we don’t have to listen to it in isolation. Just as on albums by the War on Drugs, Deerhunter, and countless others, the experimental interludes here help create a context that makes the pop songs that much more effective; by including so many mood-oriented parts, Kill for Love paradoxically rises above hazy synth-pop’s occupational hazard of dissolving into a blur of mood and mood alone. It’s not just a collection of hits; it’s an album, one that gives the project’s familiar nocturnal foreboding a new sense of grandeur. —Pitchfork