Dear Tommy was once slated as a direct follow-up to Chromatics’ 2012 masterpiece Kill For Love. I think I first mentioned it on these pages in 2014. Then it never came out and it became a SMiLE-level mythological force, a few songs from previous conceptualizations of the record released here and there but no full album. A beautiful saga arose that kept us hanging on every new Tommy-related announcement.
For years, as people studied Italians Do It Better’s every move for clues on a release date, every other comment on a Chromatics social post was something like “Dear Tommy WHEN?” I personally know a few people who were amateur sleuths into the mystery of what was supposed to be Chromatics’ sixth album. (When Chromatics skipped album six and surprise-released album seven last year — the exquisite Closer to Grey — the sleuthing amped up considerably.)
Well, might “WHEN” be sooner than we realize? Might Dear Tommy (AKA Chromatics album VI) finally be released and serve as a type of salve during these turbulent times? [Update, March 22, 2023: It’s been confirmed since Chromatics disbandment in 2021 that Dear Tommy is likely never going to come out. Founding member Adam Miller confirmed as much. There’s also the question of whether the album really existed as the label presented.]
“Teacher,” which Chromatics dropped late last night/early this morning, is an entrancing new single from a seemingly new conceptualization of Dear Tommy; and along with it the band gave us a mesmerizing new Johnny Jewel-directed music video and a full (and new) tracklist for the album. There’s still no release date, though. (You might recognize the titles “Just Like You,” “Time Rider,” and the title cut, but according to Pitchfork, these are new versions of those previously released songs.)
01. Fresh Blood
03. Never Tell
04. Just Like You
05. She Says
06. The Moment
07. Time Rider
08. White Fences
10. Between The Lines
11. Too Late
12. Dear Tommy
14. Ultra Vivid
17. Dream Sequence
18. Endless Sleep
Here’s what Jewel had to say about all of this in a press release: “The apple obscured in fog is enigmatic & open to the interpretation of the viewer. Are we sinking into the unknown or rising from beyond the grave? An apple a day keeps the doctor away & music is the medicine. Our teachers transfer knowledge of good & evil. From the fairy tale of Snow White’s endless sleep to the Garden of Eden in the book of Genesis, exposure is the agent of change. Music is a language communicated by the artist but ultimately defined by the listener’s own exposure to sound throughout their life time. I can’t change my past, but I can choose to break the cycle & not pass the poison apple I was fed to my daughter.
School’s out forever.”
Frustrated by the constant delays of Dear Tommy? You might like this gem or this one.
Chromatics and Johnny Jewel obviously have a history with Drive. In an interview back when the film and soundtrack turned five, Jewel did a deep dive with Vehlinggo and others.