Kill for Love starts out on a somber foot with a reworked Neil Young cover titled "Into the Black". Chromatics have many excellent covers in their canon, and although "Into the Black" isn't the best, it certainly sets the mood for the album. Even the title track, one of the absolute best (and most overlooked) pop songs of the decade, carries emotional weight in its simple, plaintive melody and Ruth Radelet's gorgeous, unadorned vocals. The "pop" section of the album subsides after a more groovy take on "Lady". "These Streets Will Never Look the Same" clocks in at over eight and a half minutes - the longest track here - and acts as musical and thematic bridge between the album's more immediately accessible material and the more insular pieces. A full quarter of the album is made up of instrumentals, and songs like "Running from the Sun" and "Birds of Paradise" are just as sparse despite including vocals. "A Matter of Time" and especially "At Your Door" try to bring back a bit of the pop sensibility heard in the beginning of the album, and "The River" acts as a sort of epilogue to the whole thing musically and lyrically.
Kill for Love can perhaps be likened to a more strung-out complement to the Cure's 1989 opus Disintegration in the way that it starts out in a more lively fashion before it lets itself collapse under its own weight and then (partially) digs itself back out. This music is washed-out in the best sense of the term and is really best experienced as a whole. At the same time, the one fault of this album is its gargantuan length; it nearly fills up an 80-minute disc, and digital versions contain the additional 14-minute instrumental "No Escape". It's meant to be a hazy listen, for sure, but that doesn't necessarily make it "easy" listening, especially when it's so, so melancholic. One wonders if the album might'ved played better in a more stripped-down version. In addition to the main album, there is a Drumless version of Kill for Love (technically two) and the outtakes LP Running from the Sun; Jewel has also released alternate versions of many of these songs on his SoundCloud, some of which are even better than the album versions. In light of all of that material, it's no wonder this thing came out five years after the first album!
Chromatics ended up outdoing any of their previous work with Kill for Love. In fact, their third album, Dear Tommy, will be released shortly, and in wake of advance singles like "Cherry", it's shaping up to be a worthy follow-up. Oh, and Johnny Jewel composed the soundtrack to the forthcoming Ryan Gosling movie, Lost River. Italians Do It Better is gaining some serious traction as of late, but as it stands, Kill for Love is arguably their flagship release and a true testament to style over substance.