Missed Releases: Chromatics – “Kill for Love”
Chromatic’s fourth album (the second on their current label Italians Do it Better) Kill for Love, opens with an echo-heavy guitar playing lingering notes that seem to drift and fade and swim in and out of the speakers. Vocalist Ruth Radalet slowly drifts her beautiful voice in over the guitar, adding a feminine touch to Neil Young’s “Into the Black.” However, it isn’t until the last minute or so of the song that the audience is made privy to the true meaning of the line: “out of the blue, into the black.” A synth begins disrupting the light drums and lofty guitar with a repetitive pairing of notes that slowly takes over becoming the dominant sound in the song. This leads immediately into the titular first single from the album that is extremely indicative of the tone and style of the rest of the 17 track album.
Melodic guitar lines with fuzzy synths and crooning vocals are the best way to sum up practically every song on this album. Oh, and long. I count 10 out of 17 songs on the album that are over 4 minutes long and four of those are over 7 minutes long. I don’t mean that in a negative way – I don’t have any issue with long songs or even long albums. When done correctly, with a clear vision and good follow-through, lengthy albums can pay off big-time. However, for me at least, this is where Kill for Love fails.
Musically, I love this album. I can pick any random song and really enjoy listening to it. I can notice the subtleties and the nuances, I can appreciate the style of music, and I can enjoy the vocal abilities of Radalet. Each song brings something new to the table and explores new areas of the genre, experimenting with new sounds and places. In a purely musical sense, Kill for Love is a fantastic album that should be dissected and examined. Yet, at 17 songs and clocking in at around 77 minutes, it is undeniably long. And while each song has its strengths and differences, they are subtle changes, slight alterations, that set them apart. For the most part, getting through this album in one sitting is tough. It easily becomes repetitive, especially if you aren’t listening for the subtleties. While doing anything else, it fades into the background quickly, turning into a drone of fuzz and female vocals.
Essentially, while the album is extremely strong musically, it has difficult holding the attention when it isn’t the listener’s sole focus. While that does not detract from the purely musical side of it, as a holistic listening experience it falls short.
Rating: 3.5 / 5
Key Tracks: Into the Black, Kill for Love, These Streets will Never Look the Same