Both on the Toronto music scene and in the blog house community to which they kind of got (wrongly if you ask me) associated, Crystal Castles are an oddity.
For instance, there is a definite clash between the way songwriter Ethan Kath and vocalist Alice Glass portray themselves (Emo-tinged half punk, half Goth kids) and the way they sound (bitter-sweet electro pop with a sometimes noisy edge).
But what consequently appears contradictory on paper somehow sounds terribly coherent on album, and the duo’s eponymous long player reveals itself to be an engaging beast.
Recalling the DIY aesthetics of once-youthful Scottish trio BIS as well as Detroit’s own Adult.
at their most mechanically yet effectively cold, Crystal Castles, by putting together discrete tracks recorded over the past three years, sounds immensely coherent, even when it is not at all.
At times, for example, samples are either sounding too abrupt for the song’s own good (that DFA 1979 bit at the very end of ‘Untrust Us’ feels more like a studio mistake than anything else), while the recording of an “unmixed” practice of singer Alice (tautologically called “Alice Practice”) is raw technologically-enhanced punk that is both highly unmusical and conceptually fascinating.
But it is not always like this: on ‘Vanished’, the entire vocals of a Van She song (‘Sex City’) are recast into a truly gorgeous synth-pop moment, a mood duplicated on tracks such as ‘Courtship Dating’ and ‘Magic Spells’; ‘XXZXCUZX Me’ and ‘Knights’, on the other hand, are as brutal as they are compelling.
Then, as the one truly punk gesture on the album, they totally switch gear on our ass for the closing track by going… Echoing both Slowdive’s take on shoegazing and the lo-fi recording ethos of Flying Saucer Attack (anyone else remember them?
), ‘Tell Me What To Swallow’ is puzzling at first, mostly because it feels like they’re just taking the piss out of fans, but repeated listens actually show a ludic and playful band that ends up sounding way less serious than they’re trying to make themselves look.
By Barney Evison, Arts Editor Pics by Jason Williamson Crystal Castles continued their world tour with a stop-off at the Brixton Academy on Saturday night, banging out one of their riotous shows to an eager crowd.
With a touch of melodrama, fans were kept waiting, with the live music only kicking off at 9.45pm – a long wait for a core of keen electro-heads who seemed to have already peaked by 9pm.