It was rather recently that I last mentioned Portland’s Chromatics in this space, with a minor comments debate sparking over the merits of their dreamy Kate Bush cover in its demo form. Now that I’m indecently fondling the slick and finished versions of their new Night Drive album, you’ll have to forgive a second burst of enthusiasm so soon. They played kid sister to Glass Candy on the hyped (and rad) Italians Do it Better label compilation, After Dark, but this record is a star turn.
“Healer” has a less overt Italo-disco influence than the rest of the album, but Johnny Jewel’s production maintains just enough stately throb to shine up the dominant dark post-punk overtones. Even a gloomy guitar solo nicked from Joy Division’s “Shadowplay” can’t help but sound hedonistic when placed adjacent to Ruth Radelet’s floating percocet coo. She sighs evocative nonsense (“lampshades doused in gasoline”?) for the track’s entirety, but we’re always focused on its weightless beauty over its articulation. When she finally just slips into wordless “oohs” as the bass line accelerates, the resulting tension makes me go all rubbery.