Words: Paul Page
When one of your songs features on the soundtrack of a movie that gains instant cult classic status, it is never going to hurt. And so it has proved for Chromatics -their presence on the soundtrack of the highly acclaimed 2011 film 'Drive’ garnered them the kind of street cred that no record label could even dream of manufacturing. 'Kill for Love’ is this Portland synth-pop band’s fourth album - it is a sprawling, ambitious work that mines a rich seam of 80s music and delivers perhaps the year’s most effortlessly cool album to date. Over the course of a cleverly sequenced seventeen songs, Chromatics draw on influences as diverse as Giorgio Moroder, New Order and the Jesus & Mary Chain, with a nod to the soundtrack work of John Carpenter and Angelo Badalamenti thrown in for good measure.
Seventeen songs clocking in at over ninety two minutes demands patient listening - in amongst the more obviously poppy songs like 'Candy’ and 'Kill for Love’, there are tracks here that feature long instrumental passages of sparse, hypnotic electronic but somehow the whole thing holds together quite nicely. Chromatics are very much a vehicle for the talents of producer, multi-instrumentalist and burgeoning genius Johnny Jewel, but the contribution of vocalist Ruth Radelet should not be underestimated. Her weary vocals give this album its late night, early morning melancholy feel. Chromatics work off a surprisingly limited sonic palette - almost all of these tracks feature similar vintage synthesiser sounds, 50s style noir-ish guitar twang and deep, rumbling electronic basslines, but perhaps working within such narrow confines helps give the album its cohesive, uniform feel.
'Kill for Love’ is a dark and seductive cocktail of electro pop - give it the patience it deserves, and it might just reveal the shimmering beauty within.