By Jeremy Hallock
By James Khubiar
By Observer Staff
By Kelly Dearmore
By Jim Schutze
By Rachel Watts
By Lauren Drewes Daniels
It's a curious choice to open a double album of electro-pop with a Neil Young cover, but as Chromatics' Ruth Radelet sings, "There's more to the picture than meets the eye." Kill for Love, the Portland quartet's fourth full-length, is a revelation for its ability to wrap pop hooks in a cloak of detached melancholy.
The best example is the title track, which bursts from the final strains of "Into the Black" with a rush of keyboards. It's one of several moments on the album anchored in the familiar (the guitar chug of Stevie Nicks' "Edge of Seventeen," the opening chord progression of Cyndi Lauper's "Time After Time"), but becomes something else entirely. Much of that can be attributed to the dramatically Auto-Tuned vocals of producer/multi-instrumentalist Johnny Jewel, who digitally warns, "If you say your prayers tonight, be careful what you ask."
Perhaps as important are the five instrumentals, including 14-minute album closer "No Escape," which create acres of space and seamlessly stitch everything together. It's this combination of atmospherics, vintage keyboards, programmed beats and reverb that make Jewel's other band, Chromatics, organically singular.
With 17 tracks spanning a full 90 minutes, Kill for Love is a nuanced, meticulously crafted album that asks for patience but rewards a dedicated listen; as appropriate for a late Saturday night as a lazy Sunday morning. Give it some time to stretch out.