A litany of artists including Placebo, Pink Floyd, Kiki & Herb, and Patrick Wolf have attempted Kate Bush's 1985 classic "Running Up That Hill," but none have managed the restrained grace of this demo by Portland's Chromatics that's been tearing up the blogosphere for the last week. Chromatics are the class of the Italo-disco mini revival that includes Swedish sweetheart Sally Shapiro and their fellow Oregonians, Glass Candy. Ruth Radelet's thin yet sultry voice is the key here, gliding effortlessly above immaculate synth throbs. Her interpretation lets the gender swap lyrics sound much sexier than they read on paper
It should be prominently noted that the original is very solid on its own, and it's no coincidence that Chromatics' best moment to date has a legendary songwriter like Ms. Bush to thank. But there's something about the bombast in Kate's version, a brashness to the drum fills and overinflated vocal overdubs, that feels curiously dated now. Perhaps it's a victim of its huge perm and enormous shoulder pad decade. The mistake detractors of material like this and bands like the Knife make in calling them "80's synth rip-offs" is that their production is often so much more elegant than that of their inspirations. If the eighties had actually sounded like this, it wouldn't have taken twenty years to stop being embarrassed about them.