Portland, Oregon, boasts a long line of talented musicians – yet with Kill for Love, Chromatics are looking to jump the queue. This is one sprawling opus of a record – each track a shard of glacial pop sent floating into the vaporous atmosphere by way of careful design and attention.
We all know double albums can be problematic – why not trim the fat and make a masterful ten-track release. Kill for Love almost escapes such accusations. Most of what is here has nowhere else to go – you can’t leave such blissful pop on the cutting room floor, it wouldn’t be right.
Opening on an effectively restrained and understated cover of Neil Young’s Into the Black, the record has singer Ruth Radelet’s breathless intonation to consistently levitate the music from cold reality to somewhere far more serene. Even when the electro-compressed beats hit deep like a heavy heart and the guitars wind in and out with riffs stolen from a Blondie-themed dream (hear The Page) the band seem immune from comparisons. Other vocals do grace the record – always coated with effects to maintain the illusion.
Other standouts include the intermittent piano chords and vocoded tones on the giant ballad Running from the Sun. The bass drum and sci-fi-come-analogue synths create deeper depths and push the track onwards. At Your Door, meanwhile, is quite simply a template for perfect dream-infused pop – and it’s relatively short. Other moments are far too indulgent. Some might argue that These Streets Will Never Look the Same hardly qualifies for its eight-minute running time for instance.
The instrumentals are there to accentuate the mood. The Eleventh Hour opens with sombre strings, only to collapse into pieces of shimmering synths and ambience. The broken electro beat on There’s a Light Out on the Horizon is like a spaceship landing in the middle of an oasis.
Apparently the four-piece recorded these songs all over the globe, but I struggle to believe that. It’s far too other-worldy to have been created solely here on earth.