David Lynch’s favourites Chromatics took their fans by surprise a month or so ago with the release of their first new album in seven years. Keeping their signature minimalistic synth-pop sound intact, Closer To Grey now arrives boasting resplendent covers of Simon & Garfunkel (‘The Sound of Silence’) and the Jesus & Mary Chain (‘On The Wall’).
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I was taken aback to see that this was Chromatics' first album since ‘Kill for Love’ because, between Johnny Jewel’s solo work and the always busy Italians Do It Better label, I assumed they must have released another album by now. But I was wrong, and I will have to live with the consequences.
And after these 7 years... ‘Closer to Grey’ is still definitely Chromatics. We’re living in a post ‘Drive’ world baby, so why should they change? It’s all vintage sounding synths and vintage sounding guitars, with exactly the sort of slightly vacant sounding vocals you’d want on this sort of thing.
There’s two covers on the record, ‘Sound of Silence’ and the Jesus & Mary Chain’s ‘On The Wall’. Though they’re not really in the shoegaze/noise pop space, Johnny Jewel’s guitar fetishism means beyond its drum machine and Ruth Radelet’s vocals, there’s nothing revalotory about their version. Meanwhile, their ‘Sound of Silence’ is genuinely brilliant. It’s atmospheric as hell, and given the full Chromatics treatment with an insistent descending synth arpeggio that sends shivers down the spine.
Their own songs are as good as they’ve ever been, still leaning on that cinematic noiry quality that’s taken them this far. The standout though is ‘Whispers In The Hall’ whose opening combination of massive bass and deft keys makes it Chromatic’s take on trap. It’s bizarre in a way their music rarely is, and all the more exciting for it.
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