When Johnny Jewel announced Dear Tommy would arrive “in time for Valentine’s Day,” it seemed too good to be true. And it was. While that album’s release remains a mystery, Chromatics have been unveiling some sensational tracks from Tommy, including “Just Like You,” “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around,” and “In Films.” Next up is “Shadow,” the opening track of Dear Tommy and part of the Adult Swim Singles Series. The song stretches like a shadow; fully there yet just out of reach. And behind the dark hues that infiltrate “Shadow” is a blinding light signaling this band’s growing stature.
Dear Tommy could arrive any day now; it’s an endurance test.
When Chromatics released “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around,” I commented, “If the first two glimpses of Dear Tommy are anything to go by, this time we’ll find Chromatics standing in the center of the frame. They’re ready for their close-up.” The great new single “In Films” gives credence to that original statement, as synths blast immediately into the frame, finding the band in the middle of an enormous production. Ruth Radelet continues to dazzle with her cool, smoky delivery staying above the fray below, while never sounding detached. This is stadium music that is just as powerful in the bedroom.
You can download “In Films” now, because Johnny Jewel is a saint. Seriously, send him a thank you note. And buy Dear Tommy when it’s released. We can only hope it’s soon.
Among the many great projects featuring Johnny Jewel, Chromatics has always been the group I gravitated towards when needing a dose of his slick, icy Italo-disco soundscapes. With “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around,” the band is in the midst of one of their largest songs to date. The guitar riff that helps split the song open on the chorus is one of the most emphatic moments in their discography. Chromatics, along with Jewel’s other creations, have mainly stood on the periphery, and intentionally so. If the first two glimpses of Dear Tommy are anything to go by, this time we’ll find Chromatics standing in the center of the frame. They’re ready for their close-up.
When Johnny Jewel began unloading the vaults, releasing rarities, covers, and new versions of previous Chromatics’ recordings, the most optimistic part of me thought he was gearing up for a new album. After all, it had been nearly three years since the excellent Kill For Love.
Thankfully, Dear Tommy was eventually announced, and is now set for release sometime in March through Italians Do It Better. The lead single, “Just Like You”, surfaced recently, and finds the band discovering a balance between their two fascinating sides. Kill For Love featured synth-pop juggernauts such as “Lady” and “Back From the Grave” as well as expansive instrumental compositions such as “The Eleventh Hour” and “There’s a Light Out on the Horizon”. On “Just Like You”, the band, fronted by the consistently wonderful Ruth Radelet, have their most pop sensibilities paired with spacious, sparse music that slowly takes over your being rather than forcing itself in. “Just Like You” is as singular a track as anything in Chromatics’ overlooked discography; it just so happens it also stands as one of their most accessible.
Fresh off the heels of releasing the breathtaking After Dark 2 compilation, Italians Do It Better head Johnny Jewel has given Scion a track from last year’s Running From The Sun EP by Chromatics as part of their 10th anniversary music series. “Red Car” fits perfectly in the musical realm that is Italians Do It Better, with auto-tuned vocals and ominous synths that makes the song perfect for late nights.