A stereotype has never been so true: yes, we have had to wait for the Chromatics album, and yes, the album is worth the wait. A priori, “Kill For Love” seems like the soundtrack to one of J.G. Ballard’s dystopian urban landscapes: cold, distant, and far-off. But if we scratch the surface a little and listen carefully, we hear fragility, finesse and a warmth that was hitherto unheard-of in the group. No doubt these ingredients were here before, but now they have found the perfect formula. You can tell that the band is at ease and that they have managed to forge their own sound, disproving all of those absurd theories that “the first album was the best”.
“Kill For Love” is a colossal work: no less than seventeen songs. It would be easy to lose one’s way and stick in filler with so many songs, but that isn’t the case. Besides the songs where Ruth Radelet’s voice is supplanted by those of her “mates” (the autotune and vocoder of “Running From The Sun” and “These Streets Will Never Be The Same” are inexcusable), the rest of the songs are perfect and leave you wanting more, even though they aren’t exactly short (the average is about four minutes). Furthermore, the choice of singles that they had presented so far didn’t do the album justice. But now we have the wonderful “At Your Door” - which has the sound that is so typical of the group, imbued with dark synth-pop and urban melancholy – to set the record straight.
The album also includes a series of instrumental songs that are pleasantly surprising. Far from being tedious or sounding like filler, they cover registers that range from a sort of Vangelis in “There’s A Light Out At The Horizon” sound, to the formal classicism of “The Eleventh Hour”. Slipped in among the album’s more accessible songs, they don’t clash or bore, and the band wisely chooses to close “Kill For Love” with a disquieting hidden track. Their cover of Neil Young’s “Into The Black” deserves special mention: taking on a classic (that also has so many connotations) without getting bogged down by it is a real challenge, but the band manages to come out of the experiment unscathed.
Some will doubtless come across the trio because one of their songs was included on the soundtrack to “Drive”, but in spite of what one might fear, this hasn’t spread to the album. “Kill For Love” is sad, fragile, and toxic. And there is no doubt that it is the band’s best so far.