Every Monday through Friday, we deliver a different song as part our Song of the Day podcast subscription. This podcast features exclusive KEXP in-studio performances, unreleased songs, and recordings from independent artists that our DJs think you should hear. Today’s selection, featured on the Midday Show with Cheryl Waters, is “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” by Chromatics from the 2012 album Kill for Love on Italians Do It Better.
Origninally intended for a 2010 release, Kill for Love was scrapped in its first recording and delayed until now, but for that we should thank Chromatics bandleader and Italians Do It Better mastermind Johnny Jewel (also of Glass Candy and Desire) for creating the rich, atmospheric album that it’s become. No doubt one of the year’s best albums, Kill for Love also benefits from the delay in that it follows the success of the Nicolas Refn’s award-winning movie Drive, which features both Ryan Gosling and two of Jewel’s songs: Chromatics’ “Tick of the Clock” and Desire’s “Under Your Spell”. Jewel, in fact, had scored the entire film, on request of both Refn and Gosling, but due Hollywood bureaucracy, the deal fell through (you can read about that here). Still, Jewel’s influence on the movie’s entire vibe is clear — they both share the same moody, late night disco aesthetic, heard prominently on the band’s head-turning 2007 debut, Night Drive.
Clocking in at over 90 minutes, Kill for Love has its own cinematic breadth and elegance. As if from all corners of the after-hours dance club, the songs wind their way through cycles of emotion and action — at times glittering, throbbing or brooding. Today’s featured song, “These Streets Will Never Look the Same,” is the album’s longest, at eight and a half minutes, and follows its own steady build. When our Music Director, Don Yates, reviewed the album, he could have been talking just about this song and its “darkly atmospheric sound combining grainy, buzzing analog synths, cinematic synthesized strings, drowsy, propulsive rhythms, vinyl crackles, foreboding melodies and ethereal vocals into emotionally powerful songs laced with dread and regret.” Moody, yes, but never bleak, “These Streets Will Never Look the Same” is like all songs on the album: ultimately optimistic even if the roads they turn on are dark and foreboding.
Chromatics are currently in Europe and have yet to schedule dates in the Northwest, but but since they’ve just been announced to Pitchfork Fest lineup, they’ll likely be making more festival appearances. Keep checking their Facebook page and the Italians Do It Better blog for updates. For now, here’s the album opener, a cover of Neil Young’s “Into the Black”…
and a version of what might have been if Chromatics had done the full Drive soundtrack: