Seattle's Chromatics, originally fronted by Lena Okazaki and
guitarist Adam Miller,
updated the Holy Modal Rounders' acid-folk to the digital age, with references
to every oddball of rock music from Captain Beefheart to Pussy Galore, on
Chrome Rats vs Basement Rutz (Gold Standard Labs, 2003) and
Plaster Hounds (2004).
They turned to the languid, sensual, lavish synth-pop of the 1980s on
Night Drive (Italians Do It Better, 2007), an album basically recorded
by a different band, with Miller now klanked by Glass Candy's
Johnny Jewel and vocalist Ruth Radelet. The highlights, however, is merely
Kate Bush's Running Up That Hill. Enough to propel them to
the forefront of the synth-pop revival of the era.
The longer piece is the hypnotic 16-minute sub-bass disco-music Tick Of The Clock for the generation that never heard Giorgio Moroder.
They made it more personal with the stark, synthetic, funk-tinged single
In the City (2010).
Jewel also composed the music credited to Symmetry of the double-disc
Themes For An Imaginary Film (2012).
Then came the sprawling, ambitious Kill for Love (Italians Do It Better, 2012).
Again, the album's manifesto is a cover,
Neil Young's Into the Black.
The album has a split personality. On one hand are the bouncing, playful
Back from the Grave and the
moderately catchy and carefree Kill for Love that target the partying
crowd. On the other hand are psychological traumas
the ethereal At Your Door and
the elegiac and quasi suicidal Running from the Sun that quietly fades away.
Even the seven-minute instrumental Broken Mirrors, which is basically
one long cryptic whisper, seems to hint at a manically profound
stream of consciousness.
In between the two worlds is the
eight-minute atmospheric dejected ballad These Streets Will Never Look the Same in which an uptempo guitar-drums beat collides with a mournful piano
pattern and funereal vocals.
Jewel defied the synth-pop canon by using that format for austere production
and songwriting worthy of masterpiece theater and classical music.
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