According to producer Johnny Jewel, “Music is medicine.” Or at least that’s what the sparse statement that came with the band’s surprise release says. On Tuesday at midnight, Chromatics unveiled Closer to Grey, the follow-up to 2012’s much-anticipated Kill for Love.
Closer to Grey comes after seven years of delayed releases and fraught circumstances for the band. Chromatics initially announced in December 2014 that their Kill for Love follow-up would be titled Dear Tommy and would be released around Valentine’s Day. The band subsequently shared the singles “Shadow,” “In Films,” “Just Like You, “I Can Never Be Myself When You’re Around” and “Dear Tommy.”
In 2017, though, Chromatics manager Alexis Rivera revealed that producer Johnny Jewel had destroyed all physical copies of the album in January 2016, following a near-death experience while swimming in Hawaii. A re-recorded version of the album was reported as “closer to completion.” In May 2018, Chromatics released the single “Black Walls” and announced that Dear Tommy would be out that fall, but the project was delayed again.
Closer to Grey appears to be an entirely different record from Dear Tommy, bearing no resemblance to the previously released singles. Still, it’s had a long gestation period of its own; an early version of the title track was released back in 2015.
Closer to Grey is billed as Chromatics’ seventh album (the Roman numeral VII is featured on the cover), and since Kill for Love was their fifth, it’s possible that the band may one day release a completed Dear Tommy. Or maybe it will go down in history as the Smile of the 2010s.