Chromatics | Kill For Love

Italians Do It Better (2012)
By ANDREW GRAHAM  |  April 24, 2012
3.5 3.5 Stars


Chromatics fans have become very familiar with the sensation of anticipation, almost to the point of numbness. The group's career arc has been unconventional, starting as a Portland, Oregon, garage/noise band in the early 2000s. Over the course of numerous lineup changes (and a steadily rotating cast of increasingly ethereally-voiced singers), they've transformed their sound from abrasive punk-rock to sultry, cloying, and evocative dance-pop. This gradual metamorphosis peaked with 2007's Night Drive, a set of demo recordings produced for sale on tour — the impact exceeded not only the band's expectations, but their label's ability to meet the unexpected (and immense) demand. The pause that followed Night Drive has only made things more dramatic. Kill for Love has been "in the making" for as long as it takes most people to finish college. Chromatics' knack for hooks and melody remains potent, however, and Ruth Radelet's detached, lethargic vocals ache with implicit longing. Her wistful paeans with women as their subject feel less sexually ambiguous than romantically ambivalent. Adam Miller's guitars still echo — without imitating — Joy Division and New Order, and Johnny Jewel's trademark retro-futuro-electro production sound underpins this 16-track set with a dreamy, after-the-afterparty atmosphere that feels like it could go on all night long.

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