Chromatics: Kill for Love

It feels like ages since Chromatics released their last album, 2007’s Night Drive. Night Drive, along with records by Italians Do It Better labelmates Glass Candy and Desire, was a major part of that year’s Italo disco revival, which saw indie bands flirting with slow, arpeggiated basslines and nocturnal, often mournful female vocals.

Short lived as that movement was, Kill for Love‘s opening track “Into the Black” is a total surprise: A Neil Young cover, it’s driven by distorted, almost sloppy electric guitar, a sound that would have seemed completely out of place on any of Night Drive‘s sleek disco tracks. This newfound diversity is employed throughout Kill for Love. Though Chromatics’ signature palm-muted guitar and ambling beats are still present, they’re just as likely to indulge in buoyant AM radio piano lines or shuffling snare-heavy drums.

A key aspect of Kill for Love is its scope. Its seventeen tracks last about an hour and a half, a considerable length even for a double-album. Chromatics’ songwriting is consistent though, and the album is generally free of filler. Songs like the standout “Lady,” or the melancholy “Candy” evoke the darker side of ’70s radio rock, and are just as achingly beautiful as similar works by artists like Stevie Nicks or Steve Winwood, while tracks like “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” unfold with a cinematic sense of urgency, with patient, tense drum machines punctuating brittle synthesizers.

Kill for Love
is perhaps most remarkable in its ability to skillfully evoke a specific sense of atmosphere while never forgetting the importance of good songwriting. Though it likely comes as a surprise to listeners expecting more stylish night-disco, Kill for Love stands as an excellent, surprisingly consistent follow-up.