Chromatics – Kill For Love (Italians Do It Better)
July 18, 2012 by Daniel Gill
Chromatics’ fourth release ‘Kill For Love’ is a movie length album. Some listeners might be put off by this, as length can be an off putting factor when it comes to music. You may not have the patience to sit through one hour thirty minutes of Chromatics’ lush ambient sounds. You would be wrong if you were thinking of that option. After all this is band that got offered to write the soundtrack for uber-stylish thriller Drive, before Cliff Martinez was brought in to control the vehicle. Naturally a bands confidence would deflate if they had been bumped off at such late notice, however Chromatics had other ideas. Instead they would make Kill For Love their Drive soundtrack.
It’s as if producer Johnny Jewel (Chromatics visionary) wanted to show his doubters what they were missing when releasing Kill For Love. When you listen through it, you get the feeling of “This was definitely made for the film”. ‘Broken Mirrors’ is so close to the film’s opening song ‘Tick of The Clock’ (which also features on an older Chromatics release), it’s as if the only things Jewel has replaced are the odd snare hit and the overall tempo. The resemblance is uncanny.
It’s not all broody like the movies front man though. Title track ‘Kill For Love’ is the closest you’ll get to a pop song on the album, well at least a song that could be released into the charts. Ruth Radelet’s sweet coo’s ride over waves of 1980′s-esque synths, making it a cross between new school and old school. Thank the production of M83 mixed with the sounds of the forgotten Alphaville. Radelet’s voice is so central to this album, as her tone rarely changes. Jewel’s synths and beats just float around her, so no matter how big they are or how powerful they come onto a track, Radalet’s voice seems to control them effortlessly, not letting the sounds devour her.
Jewel’s production on this album is masterful in the sense of its simplicity. There are no complicated arrangements or times when you think too much is happening on a track. There seems to always be the right amount of instrumentation, you never think “Well something else could have been added there”. Johnny Jewel seems like he knows how to make a song that oozes style and class; you can tell why he was approached for scoring Drive in the first place. The best bits of the album come when he lets the tracks air out at the end, prolonged pads end a song fading into silence. After this you hear a beat coming back in to start a new song or a synth bubbling up to introduce some vocals. It’s these moments of gorgeous ambience where you have time to reflect and let your mind wander before Jewel smoothly filters in another cinematic pad to pulsate your brain back into Chromatics mode.
Kill for Love is an album which will appreciated on the first listen and it’s an album which some listeners may not go back to for a long time. Fortunately Jewel has constructed a piece that makes a good first impression, and lasting impressions that will make a listener come back to it if they need to clear their mind. Johnny Jewel’s crystal like production will do this. You need to view Kill For Love as more of a cinematic experience, than a musical one. It will sit in your collection for a long time waiting for the right time to be played again, and when the mood is right for it to be put back into the CD player you’ll feel exactly how you did the first time you sat through it.