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Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

CRYSTAL Castles hail from Toronto and their eponymous debut album is designed to create a new sound and genre.

Inspired by “blank looks on girls, switchblades and Zaccharias Janssen, the inventor of the microscope”, it’s very much a leftfield collection of acid damaged beats and spasmodic retro-glamming bleeps that sound as though they could have been filtered through an old Atari games console.

It also left me feeling decidedly blank, probably wearing the same look of indifference that helped to inspire it in the first place. It’s not so much that Crystal Castles is a bad album, merely a bland one.

The electronic waves, kitsch sounds and loose attention to coherence make for an unfulfilling experience. Tracks tend to wash over you without registering any sort of impression.

Ethan Kath and Alice Glass certainly seem poised for bigger things, as the album is doing well on pre-sales and arrives amid much anticipation and hype, but it’s strangely symptomatic of the worst that the dance genre has to offer (even though I’d choose listening to it a thousand times over any Ibiza/Ministry of Sound release).

Tracks like Knights really don’t go anywhere, while 1991 could be Paul Hardcastle mixed with Crystal Castles without incorporating any of the ingenuity of the former artist. Once they’ve found their ryhthm, tracks just seem to drift off into the ether, without really bothering to do much more.

And sometimes, they just come over like a complete mess. Alice Practice finds Glass adopting some punk-rock vocals to add some punch, but the blips and bleeps go into overload and the song quickly becomes a mind-numbing, headache inducing wall of noise.

Likewise, the manic Xxzxcuzx Me, which really does mark the album at its most wretched.

That said, there are occasional highlights. Album opener Untrust Us, for example, drops some ethereal vocals to compliment the processed, Shamen-style beats and electronic whizzes, while Crimewave is a decent offering, and Good Time, like its name suggests, contains a kitsch feelgood vibe during which the electronics actually conform to a more coherent melodic structure.

But the overall impression, I have to say, is one of disappointment coupled with confusion as to why they’re being tipped to become so big.

Download picks: Untrust Us, Good Times, Crimewave

Track listing:

  1. Untrust Us
  2. Alice Practice
  3. Crimewave – Crystal Castles/Health
  4. Magic Spells
  5. XXZXCUZX
  6. Air War
  7. Courtship Dating
  8. Good Time
  9. 1991
  10. Vanished
  11. Knights
  12. Love And Caring
  13. Through The Hosiery
  14. Reckless
  15. Black Panther
  16. Tell Me What To Swallow

  1. Knight’s is my favorite……

    somebunny    Apr 28    #
  2. I thought the same at first but I am now completely addicted to this album.

    Knights is has a great noise build that finally unleashes a great heavenly chorus. Alice Practice and XXZXCUZX are simply the band’s earliest demos, left unmixed for the collection.

    In my opinion, Good Time is the worst song on the album. Yet other bands would kill for a track like Good Time.

    Graham    Apr 28    #