New Music: Chromatics - Girls Just Wanna Have Fun

Local Music, Album Reviews
Gerrit Feenstra

Chromatics have had an unprecedented 2015. The world has been talking about their upcoming LP Dear Tommy since December. We've been listening to its singles since February when we got "Just Like You", quickly followed by "I Can Never Be Myself When You're Around". In April, we got the massive "In Films" and Johnny Jewel's full length soundtrack to Ryan Gosling's film Lost River. And then, a summer of silence. I think at this point we've had more unconfirmed drop dates than Frank Ocean and the end of the world combined. And here we are, 11 months after announcement, and not an ounce of that anticipation has waned. Indeed, absence makes the heart grow fonder, especially when every glimpse has pulled at our heartstrings like nothing else on the menu.Finally, at the beginning of September, something incredible happened. Fashion icons MANGO announced their Fall line, which featured dueling supermodels Kate Moss and Cara Delevigne, flipping hair and looking ravishing, all soundtracked beautifully by a third haunting siren: one Ruth Radalet covering Cyndi Lauper classic "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun". The timing of this creative partnership couldn't be more perfect for Chromatics. Within a week, we had both the cover on the horizon, as well as a brand new Dear Tommy single in hand, and the best one yet at that. For both the new single "Shadow" and "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun", Chromatics have prepped expansive Maxi Digital Single packages, each one clocking in around 30 minutes to show off each track in every imaginable shade. Balancing chic, grace, and mystery, Chromatics continue their juggernaut of a year with yet another reason to fall in love. With this pair of singles and another ace up their sleeve just waiting to be played, Chromatics and Italians Do It Better prove they have no line on the horizon. Check out the video below and grab the single at the Italians Do It Better store!

Timeless doesn't even begin to describe Chromatics. 2007's Night Drive introduced us to the cinematic, electro sound that has come to define them, with a massive Italo disco story arc of a record and the monumental "Tick of the Clock". With 2012's Kill For Love, an air of americana floated through another expansive collection of haunting, ethereal dance music, giving us their fantastic take on Neil Young's "Into the Black" and the dark sensuality of "Lady". But in approaching Dear Tommy's impending release, the singles we've received have taken us to yet another place and time. While the three previous tracks gave us different shades, "Shadow" gives us the most definitive look at the band's new chapter yet. "Shadow" counters the cold, atmospheric minimalism of Kill For Love with a warm, inclusive feel of homecoming. The motifs of Dear Tommy are clear from the singles we've received thus far - the story of the album is baked in nostalgia and regretful hindsight, but more than anything, incomprehensible love. Never before has the band so acutely embodied an emotional landscape as they have here. Every dive into song evokes years upon years of love and relational hardship. Chromatics seem to have a Midas effect in this respect - everything they touch turns to ethereal beauty, both enticing and haunting in equal parts.

In this way, "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" is the perfect counterpoint to "Shadow". It's not that "Girls" isn't serious - the way Ruth sings it, it's serious as a heart attack. But rather, the introspection and reflection that she evokes feel bright and content in experience, as opposed to heartbroken and filled with regret. Chromatics' take on the record is quite easy to fall in love with. The band retains the fast pace, bouncing melody, and groovy bass-line, then replace the rest with Italo disco magic (in a major key, no less). In the ad campaign, Kate is countered and complemented by Cara. In the song, Cyndi is dissected and displayed anew by Ruth. The whole thing is really everything that Chromatics have proven in their formula: the best offering is always a fresh approach coupled with ageless excellence.

And yet, that's not all that the band give us with this release. The Maxi Single gives us a variety of interpretations, if the first one wasn't enough. After the single fades, the "Girls Just Wanna Have Some" rendition strips the drums back to a skittering triplet-ridden mood track with a hip-hop tinge. This is something we are hearing from Chromatics for the first time, and it's wonderful! After that comes the "Drums" rendition, which feels a bit like a classic 80s extended 12" New Order song, where the verses are all out of order and you wish the groove would go on for like twenty minutes. After that, the "Dub" version gives us a drumless take on the original, which, to no surprise of anyone who has heard the band's Drumless take on Kill For Love, takes the general level of melancholy to the max. Without the disco beat, you really get to hear Ruth bite into each of Lauper's lines, and only then do you realize, this song is incredibly heavy. In fact, it's a pretty brutal showcase of a conservative culture's perception of women in decades past, camouflaged as a harmless dance tune. In this respect, "Girls" is a proud addition to Chromatics' stellar list of covers beside Neil Young and Kate Bush. Chromatics enter the 11th month of 2015 with as much fuel feeding their fire as the first. As the world hotly anticipates Dear Tommy they have plenty to chew on with a pair of singles that paints the band in a brilliant new light to prequel this exciting new chapter.

Chromatics' "Girls Just Wanna Have Fun" Maxi Digital Single is out this week on Italians Do It Better. Grab the 7 track release for a dollar at the Italians store. The Maxi Single for "Shadow" is out now, also available for a dollar at the IDIB store. Italians Do It Better will release a deluxe CD box set for the soundtrack to Lost River on Tuesday (the vinyl release is out early next year). Finally, the massively anticipated upcoming LP Dear Tommy is out whenever they feel like it.

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