Chromatics – Kill For Love
by Matthew Yau
I was originally going to write this for the ‘It’s Friday I’m in Love’ section because Chromatics have been around for over a decade but have yet to make a real impression in the mainstream sphere. But this may change after Kill For Love. Any listeners who have heard them alraedy are now attached to their hazy, synth-based Italo-disco – a derivative of disco that originated in Italy in the late 70s and early 80s. In its heyday, the genre was popular and successful in much of Europe but Chromatics wanted to bring the sound to America and the 21st century. There’s not much to say about the genre because Chromatics encapsulate the essence of its sound so well with its inherent 80s tone, grainy textures and sharp bleeps.
It’s been a couple of years since their last album Night Drive, and the new LP is much of the same, just more polished, more complete and more confident. Perhaps people weren’t ready for Night Drive when it came it because it was certainly an enjoyable album but Kill For Love seems to be getting more people talking – and listening. Usually, it relatively simple to pick and choose the tracks you like from an album and despite having rinsed through the album several times, I still find it difficult to choose my favourite track. One of the reasons is that each tune has real character and not one of those 2D ones either but a full-blown 3D presence that you can touch and lick.
This is achieved by being authentic and true to your sound. As a result, Chromatics like to use a range of instruments including monophonic synthesizers, mobile phones and even a Theremin. But they limit themselves to digital variations because more even a hammered dulcimer features in the album too. When everything is layered together, a moody sculpture is moulded together that never seems to weather. In fact, Kill For Love is so alluring that it draws you in to ensure you hear every little crackle. And that’s’ exactly what you do for over ninety minutes, just listen and let your mind wander. Then when you come to the end which drones into a silence, the enthrallingly nostalgic sound is just begging to be replayed.
P.S. How awesome is Johnny Jewel – their producer and multi-instrumentalist – to mix an unbroken version of the album on SoundCloud. And if you hate the sound of thumping drums, you can download a drumless version of the album here. Oh, and I still don’t know what my favourite track on the album is.