Chromatics - Kill For Love

23 April, 2012

By Nixxie


If like me you enjoyed a certain 2011 movie starring Ryan Gosling and Carey Mulligan as much as I did, you probably would have got your hands on a copy of the film's soundtrack. And while most people were (justifiably) enchanted by Kavinsky's Nightcall, you would also have come across Chromatics' Tick Off The Clock. In fact if one were inclined to dig a little deeper (like I did at the time), one would eventually have come across Chromatics' 2007 Night Drive LP, which to a (large) extent set the tone for the subsequent movie.


The movie is of course Drive and it effectively propelled this Seattle-based bedroom dream-pop act into the limelight and Kill For Love is their first work to follow up from that success. It's a 90-minute, ambitious, instrument-rich collection of songs that has so far been met with a lot of critical acclaim. Which is why I'm going to start this review by pointing out what I didn't like before going on to what I did.


Firstly, the whole album is and certainly feels self-recorded. That's not necessarily a bad thing in itself, but it just feels that a lot of the resonance and vibrance is a little toned-down as a result. My biggest problem on this is some of the vocal deliveries, which I found to range from  mediocre to very poor, especially on the tracks The Page and At Your Door - I cringe every time I hear these (to the point where I've de-selected them from my playlist). Maybe I'm being a tad harsh, but I just cannot get over how unenthusiastic, wannabe-cool-but-just-sounds-lazy (not to mention off key on a number of occasions) Ruth Radelet's deliveries are. Oh and the use of autotune, which I must hastily add I am not a sworn enemy of in general, also seems pretty aimless on this album.


I'm not a fan of the opener, which is a Neil Young Cover of his Hey Hey, My My (Into the Black). I don't think the deconstructive approach does the original any favours at all - I just didn't like it plain and simple. Finally, my last major cause for discontent on this is that some of the tracks too closely resemble one another, to the point where some feel almost like filler material.


Now let me tell you what's good. The atmosphere conjured: dreamy, slow, heavy at times, mesmerizing at others. The track Lady is where Radelet makes it up for me - it's not that her vox are vastly improved, but they fit nicely in the overall slow down-beat this song creates. I really enjoyed this one.


These Streets Will Never Look The Same - another great tune. I'm one of those sentimental people who gets caught up in emotion, so I can easily relate to the subject matter here. They've really captured that feeling on this one, and I'll concede that this one track where the vocal harmoniser worked to good effect on male lead vocal.


A Matter Of Time is also amazing, an intriquate, eery, visceral song that made me drift off into a fuscia coloured synth-infused haze of derelict emotion. In this instance I felt that the whole song, including the oh-so-important vocals, really came together.


Tracks like Kill For Love, Broken Mirrors, Running From The Sun, Dust To Dust and The River also did the trick for me and I suspect will be returning to them often. I guess that overall I just would have preferred it if they had opted to go with their 10 strongest tracks instead of 17 (including a 14 minute long closer - which I liked). As it stands, this album contains quite a few "keepers" and more than it's fair share of filler, which is a shame because what they do well, I thought they did really well.


One thing's for sure: if you liked the Drive OST, you will find plenty to like here.






Primary Genre: Pop

Subgenre: Synth Pop, Italo Disco

Release Date: March 2012

Label: Italians Do It Better

Influences: Neil Young, Kate Bush

Like This And You'll Probably Also Like: M83

Album Highlights:  Lady, These Streets Will Never Look The Same, A Matter Of Time















"Some great tracks and some poor ones thrown in there too, the bottom line is it's worth checking out and a must for all Drive fans, 7/10"


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Raised in England, educated by France, originally from Greece. 
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The Clash
Smashing Pumpkins
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