Photo: Video still

Chromatics – “Time Rider” (Singles Going Steady)

On synthpop band Chromatics' latest track "Time Rider", the melancholy remains present, but they find the beauty in it as a means of survival and sanity.

Mick Jacobs: A masterclass in the build-up, “Time Rider” slowly adds a new integral element from the introduction to the verse to the chorus. A light beat opens the track, and it’s joined by Ruth Radelet’s wispy voice, and then, a set of soft synths. A repetitive guitar riff at the chorus gives the song an additional pulse of energy, a needed boost as the narrator “enter(s) the storm”. Though it somberly acknowledges the misfortunes of aging and dying, “Time Rider” also accepts the situation. The melancholy remains present, but Chromatics find the beauty in it as a means of survival and sanity. Why fight when you can just accept your fate? [8/10]

Lauren Ball: If it weren’t for Ruth Radelet’s timeless breathy vocals, reminiscent of Julee Cruise and Trish Keenan, “Time Rider” would all but fall flat. Maybe it’s the kaleidoscopic Burning Man-esque acid house headache of a video that accompanies it, but this track lacks the dimension and dark intrigue I was hypnotized by when Chromatics released Kill For Love in 2012. Still, as a project of the creator and Everything Man of Italians Do It Better, Johnny Jewel, Chromatics continues to deliver clean (albeit predictable) synthpop for the shy ravers. [5/10]

Chris Ingalls: The latest single from Portland, Oregon’s electronic music outfit has the soothing feel of an early ’80s pop single over a warm bed of synthetics. The somewhat lethargic beat is oddly intoxicating and is juxtaposed with some beautifully placed keyboard “whooshes” that keep the song from sounding like an anonymous electronic dance track. A seductive and beautifully executed single that gets better with repeated listens. [8/10]

John Bergstrom: Any song inspired by an ultra-kitschy 1980s sci-fi western movie is OK by me. That it’s a Euro-cold, danceable synthpop song is a bonus. Take a tumble down this rabbit hole and you’ll wind up at your neighborhood hipster clothing store, circa last Thursday night. [7/10]

Mike Schiller: There are serious Blondie vibes on “Time Rider”, except that the punk energy of that band is replaced by glassy-eyed calculation. The protracted journey that Chromatics has taken to release a new album is threatening to take over the appreciation for their music; the Wikipedia page for the ever-imminent new album Dear Tommy shows a release date of “2019 maybe”. But “Time Rider” is fine; it is a tuneful pop song that sounds very much like the way one would expect Chromatics to sound by now. Ruth Radelet’s vocals are in fine form, there are no seams in the backdrop behind her, and the color scheme of the video is admittedly pretty fantastic. That said, it doesn’t leave much of an impression; it would be nice to hear what it sounds like in the context of an album. [6/10]

John Garratt: This song was so boring, I forgot I was listening to it. [2/10]

Rod Waterman: There is something perpetually ineffable (in that it’s hard to know how to talk about them) and therefore also sublime (in that it’s beautiful in a way that is also difficult to describe) about Chromatics. The bass beat under this new song feels like it could, in other hands, rather easily turn into “Eye of the Tiger”, which it very thankfully does not. Instead, Johnny Jewel and his slinky minions create another delicious piece of synthetic driving music which honors and advances the legacy of Kraftwerk in both subtle and more obvious ways. If Roxy Music were making “Avalon 2: Electric Boogaloo”, it might not sound dissimilar to this. Think about that for a minute. And then press play again. [8/10]

Jordan Blum: Aurally and visually, this fits right into the neon ’80s synthpop resurgence taking over these days. There’s nothing wrong with that, of course. The main woman reminds me of Shirley Manson, so it’s odd to see her connected to this genre, but I dig it. Her light, angelic voice matches the simple but impactful melodies, and the music is fittingly cool and purposeful. If the style isn’t your thing, this won’t change that, but it perfectly captures what it sets out to do. [7/10]

SCORE: 6.38