35 Albums in 35 Years: 2012

In an ongoing attempt to bleed my opinions all over your computer screen, I’m selecting one album from every year that I’ve been alive that has some sort of significance to me…and then writing about it. Welcome back to 35 Albums in 35 Years.

 

chromatics2012: Chromatics’ Kill for Love

Oh nostalgia. I write about it all the time. This entire column has been one long trip down memory lane, a grand rediscovery and reassessment of music and times I haven’t listened to or thought about…sometimes for almost decades. It’s been fun. It’s been exciting. At times it’s even been cathartic. We should all look back every now and then. It’s good to remember. Even though Chromatics’ 2012 magnum opus Kill for Love is only two years old now, it carries with it an air of times long since past, a breeziness that feels like lost songs only just remembered from childhood or adolescence. In its own way, it is nostalgia incarnate.

Or at least that’s what it sounds like to me.

For some reason or another when I was in high school, my group of friends and I all got into a lot of 80’s rock bands. Groups like Echo and the Bunnymen, The Church, The Smiths, Depeche Mode, Love and Rockets, and so many more worked their way into our headphones to our collective sighs of pleasure, much the same way as they had to teenagers a decade prior. We waxed nostalgic on older songs that were brand new to us, kids pining away for an era we barely just remembered. Maybe it was a result of our older siblings. Maybe it was all a part of living in the veritable cultural void that is small-city, America. Maybe it’s the fact that so much of this music still sounds fresh all these years later. Whatever the case may be, this kind of “pre-alternative” rock music molded my ears and mind, and set one of the many templates for my tastes and preferences to come. It sounded like home.

Kill for Love sounds like home.

Opening with a luscious and wistful cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black,” the tone of the album is set, immediately calling back to my youth. The combination of soft guitar notes, which always remind me of The Church’s “Under the Milky Way,” and Young’s insightful lyrics give the proceedings a dusty, faded, and far-away quality that feels old, but timeless nonetheless. It’s a brilliant way to begin a record that’s indebted to retro sounds and sentiment. And it’s a gorgeous track to boot.

From there, the album moves through moonlit, crackling, and humming 80’s synth-inspired and dreampop-infused songs of earnest love, bewitching wonder, experimental interludes, and Euro-disco trash. Title track “Kill for Love” sounds like a speed freak’s lament to unrequited love and obsession, and it’s just catchy enough to stay with you for days. “There’s a Light out on the Horizon” twists, turns, and pulses, almost feeling like an outtake from another project of band member Johnny Jewel, the analog synthesizer faux-soundtrack machine that is Symmetry. “Lady” is the sound of loneliness and yearning as filtered through the smooth and sexy beats of an Italian discotheque. The airiness of the whole affair makes for killer mood music, all the while the electro-beats and ethereal dreaminess lull you into submission. The sultry and sexy vocals of lead singer Ruth Radelet then are the proverbial cherry on top.

I love this album. It’s a piece of pop art that feels epic and effortless, a knowing nod to the past while digging into the future, an organic record made by music lovers. Nostalgia aside, this should be on everyone’s play list.

Melancholy music never made me so happy.

- Favorite song: “Into the Black”
– Runner up: “Kill for Love”

Some other songs I almost wrote about instead: Quakers’ Quakers; Swans’ The Seer; Beach House’s Bloom; Killer Mike’s R.A.P. Music; Trust’s TRST; Death Grips’ The Money Store; Action Bronson and Party Supplies’ Blue Chips; Pallbearer’s Sorrow and Extinction.

 

 

Thomas H Williams

Thomas H Williams

From a bunker somewhere in Central Texas, Thomas H. Williams spends most of his time with his wife, his two sons, and his increasingly neurotic dog. He listens to a lot of music, drinks a lot of excellent beers, and gets out from time to time. For even more shenanigans, visit heavenisanincubator.blogspot.com.

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