Violently pretty. It’s a jarring oxymoron that calls to mind a beauty so fierce and fully realized that it’s a bit frightening.

The music of Chromatics is violently pretty.

This was not always the case. When Chromatics formed initially in the early 2000’s their music could probably be better described as pretty violent.  Jarring guitar sounds clashed against abrasive vocals, and any percussion tended to be kept to a minimum. The only thing that remains of that initial line-up is the band’s founder Adam Miller. Even in those early days though, Miller was a fan of his current line-up’s most attention grabbing member, Johnny Jewel. Jewel produced the band’s first two albums; the haphazard Chrome Ratz vs. Basement Rutz, and the stylistically similar though far more carefully considered follow up Plaster Hounds.

Once Jewel became a full time band member, things began to change.

The dangerous, and unnerving nature of Chromatics remained constant throughout, but by the time they released 2007’s Night Drive the band had achieved the sound that they are most known for now; dark shimmering synths, sinister pulsating beats, and the just evocative enough voice of Ruth Radelet.

Night Drive was released on the label Italians Do It Better, co-founded by Jewel.  Since then it has become a de rigueur reference point for describing current dance music that’s informed by post-punk, New Wave, or the beloved Italo disco that the label takes it’s name from.

Also since then, Chromatics were featured on the soundtrack to the well received film Drive. A film which seemed to get as many accolades for the soundtrack as for anything else.

So Chromatics newest release Kill For Love found itself arriving with more eyes and ears awaiting it then any Chromatics release before it.

It far surpasses all past works, and that’s no easy feat for a band with such a diverse and impressive back catalogue. Given the nature of their evolution though, it seems like Chromatics has really grown into the band that they were meant to be. Kill for Love draws you in slowly by opening with a stunning cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black”, from there, every sonic turn keeps you guessing as to what will happen next.

It demands your full attention, and will take several listens for the full scope of it all to sink in. Chromatics in general, and Kill for Love especially, deserve it.

Stream “Into the Black” below and download it here.

CHROMATICS / INTO THE BLACK by JOHNNY JEWEL

– Marion Hodges

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