The Chromatics are an electro band that sound like something you’d hear while walking back to your car at three a.m. after a brief rainstorm cooled off the August humidity but left enough of it to remind you that its mind-numbing effects would soon return.
Trust me, you’ll agree with me once you hear Kill for Love. The album starts with the best cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black” I have ever heard. I challenge anyone to find a better one. The lovely, hypnotic Ruth Radelet seems born to sing it. The title track bubbles with electro synths, but don’t let it fool you. It belies the dark lyrics sung by Radelet (who also deftly works synthesizers for the band). Her voice appropriately haunts you on “Back from the Grave.” It has wonderful guitar by Adam Miller that ticks along like rows of corn whipping by as you drive down a moonlit road.
Want more stuff you could play at either your chill-out after-party or while driving the kids around for trick-or-treating? Try “Lady.” Radelet’s vocals seem to float through fog as she spins a tale of exotic gender-bending love (“If I could only call you ‘lady,’ baby, I could be your man.”). Johnny Jewel (producer / multi-instrumentalist) knocks this one out of the park. It’s slick, spooky, and sexy all at the same time. Nat Walker (drums) lays down a wicked beat that will make you want to get naked.
Other tracks make you want to drive alone late at night (“Broken Mirrors”), drive your blindfolded lover wild with anticipation while they’re tied to the bed (“Running from the Sun”), or drive a stake through a vampire’s heart (“Dust to Dust”).
As the album’s title suggests, there are love songs throughout the record. The album’s title also suggests that these love songs will not be about running through fields of daisies or sipping hot cocoa by the fire. They are songs about the dark side of love that can creep up at the most inconvenient times. They are songs about heartbreak and longing. “At Your Door” is my favorite example. Radelet sings that she doesn’t want answers from her lover, just laughs. She shows up out of the blue and offers a good time (“…the door is still open, give me your hand”), but she is reduced to near-desperation when her lover doesn’t take the offer (“Give me your hand, give me your hand, give me your hand” she repeats). Not only are Radelet’s vocals wonderful, but the synthesizer work by all of the Chromatics is also especially good on this track.
“There’s a Light Out on the Horizon” is a bleak tale of loneliness as Radelet leaves a tired voicemail hoping to reach someone, but the recipient deletes it and doesn’t call back. The final track, “The River,” has Radelet still waiting for her lover at what seems to be the end of the world (at least in her eyes). She is still there, waiting for a lover that deletes her voicemails and refuses to take her hand when she offers it.
I urge you to take it, and to follow Radelet and the rest of the Chromatics on this haunting late night road trip.
Back From The Grave:
KILL FOR LOVE Track List:
01 Into the Black
02 Kill for Love
03 Back From the Grave
04 The Page
06 These Streets Will Never Look the Same
07 Broken Mirrors
09 The Eleventh Hour
10 Running From the Sun
11 Dust to Dust
12 Birds of Paradise
13 A Matter of Time
14 At Your Door
15 There’s a Light Out on the Horizon
16 The River
17 No Escape
Nik Havert is a writer, DJ, harmonica player, martial arts instructor, comic book publisher, crime fighter,music lover, cult movie enthusiast, and modern day Renaissance man. He hopes to shark cage dive sometime in the next few years and enjoys travel and good natural root beer.
I love to see a young girl go out and grab the world by the lapels. Life’s a bitch. You’ve got to go out and kick ass.” ~ Maya Angelou
“Woman is the Wonder of the World.” ~ Billy Joe Shaver