Kill for Love
Opening with a cover of Neil Young’s “Hey Hey My My (Into the Black)”, or any Neil Young song for that matter, is a move that most bands would not even attempt. Even if a band did decide to cover the Neil track, they most likely would bury at the end of an album, just in case it went over poorly. Chromatics, on the other hand, decided to take a path that was most bold, and proudly display their toned-down, ethereal version of the Crazy Horse-aided classic at the forefront of their new double LP, Kill for Love. Chromatics version, “Into the Black”, does what any good cover does, and adds a nice change of the pace to the original without completely deconstructing everything that makes the original so amazing. Gone are the electric guitar chords dropping like a hammer, and in is some well-placed sparse piano and a little synthesizer. Also, a good contrast to the original are the pretty vocals of Ruth Radelet, who trades off vocal duties with bandleader Johnny Jewel throughout the album.
While using a cover of a classic to open an album is an interesting move in and of itself, it becomes even more interesting to the uninitiated listener when “Into the Black” ends and the second track, “Kill for Love” begins. “Kill for Love” ramps up the action with alternating upbeat electro-pop numbers that could have fit just fine on an M83 album and lyric-less numbers more cinematic in nature (which also would have fit just fine on an M83 album). Chromatics ultimately succeed in both arenas, but more so early in the album where they keep their arrangements a little tighter, leaving a product more easily digestible.
I make the previous statement, despite the fact that my favorite song on the album happens to be the 8-minute plus “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”. “Streets” also happens to heavily employ the use of vocoder, which happens to be my other complaint with Kill for Love as a whole. Taking its guitar cue from the opening of Pink Floyd’s “Another Brick In the Wall pt. 1”, “Streets” somehow manages to make all eight minutes worth it.
As I alluded to above, the more cinematic tracks can fall into a bit of a lull at times. Tracks like “Broken Mirrors” and “The Eleventh Hour” come to almost a complete standstill at times, and I don’t think all of these “down times” are always necessary to achieve some sort of epic build. And as for the vocoder use, there is such a thing as too much. Every track that Johnny Jewel supplies vocals for (roughly half), relies on the vocoder heavily. Sooner or later I just feel like I am just listening to a robot crying and can’t take it anymore.
Despite these lulls and overusage of certain elements, Chromatics manage to create a thoroughly entertaining album that catches your attention from the opening note. Getting through a few of the rougher patches on the 90+ minutes of music can be a chore occasionally, but if you stick with it you should be satisfied with your end impression.
Can’t Miss: “Lady”, “Back from the Grave”, “These Streets Will Never Look the Same”, “Birds of Paradise”
Can’t Hit: “Broken Mirrors”, “The Eleventh Hour”