A masterly slice of buzzy, reverby gorgeousness, “Kill For Love” is half Jesus & Mary Chain/New Order mashup, half resplendent dance-club shimmer. There are bleepy, twittery synthesizers, scronky guitars, a rigorous (but seemingly handmade) drumbeat, instrumental melody lines, and a fuzzed-up soundscape. On top of it all we get the subtly radiant voice of Ruth Radelet, who sings without pretension and with a wonderful touch of smoke.
Overall the song seems built on a series of simple gestures that read aurally as elegant. An example is in the drumming, and how the song begins with a distinct, pulse-like pounding, which unconsciously draws us in with its heart-related sonic imagery. At 0:49, an insistent high-hat adds a metallic blur, out of which a number of new background sounds emerge. This is not complicated but it is incisive. More songs would be this relatively simple if they knew how; it’s kind of like that old saw about how I would’ve written you a shorter letter but I didn’t have the time.
Chromatics is/are (so difficult to select the right verb form in this case) a Portland, Ore.-based band that began as a punk-rock outfit in Seattle in 2002. Personnel changes led to a major reboot in 2007, with the album Night Drive, on the Italians Do It Better label, which introduced Radelet as vocalist and Johnny Jewel as the band’s mastermind. Kill For Love, released in March, continues in this mode. You can listen to the entire album, blended together without breaks between songs, via SoundCloud. If nothing else, be sure to check out the opening track, which is a splendid if unexpected reworking of Neil Young’s “My My Hey Hey (Into the Black).”