If there is one way to truly experience Crystal Castles then forget this album, buy a ticket and go see them live. That isn’t as bizarre a recommendation as it would first seem. There are album bands whom you’d be a fool not to buy up their stock. Others are only really understood when there is no barrier between you and them.
This reviewer stumbled upon Crystal Castles in such an environment, apathetically ignorant of the column inches spouting drivel about Atari sound chips, ’80s cartoons and hookups with the Klaxons and Ed Banger records. In fact, it might suit you to forget that there is a music industry and take everything you want to discover in the first person and make up your own mind about things.
So that night was of the rare kind, where you honestly believed you were experiencing a moment which rendered everything else irrelevant. If that sounds like tosh perhaps a second opinion is in order: have a read here and here.
So what’s changed since then? Life for Ethan Kath and Alice Glass as they knew it. As with any in demand band, they’ve been javelined around the northern hemisphere with the urgency of US presidential election hopefuls during the final throes of primary season. Single, promo, tour, promo, single, promo, tour, promo… the formula suits a certain type of band while others fall flat on their tired asses.
Crystal Castles find themselves caught in the middle, with this album a cutting room of great ideas, works in progress and drafts which need to go back to the drawing board. Maybe its simply representative of their caustic stage personas that this album has no flow and is a contradiction of juxtaposition: heady / abrupt / narcotic / combustive / flat out boring.
Its strongest elements tend to be those we’ve already heard: Air War,Courtship Dating, Crimewave, whilst it has a few offerings which should assuage those who have warmed to them early on: Untrust Us, 1991, Vanished.Others are a tired disaster which exemplify how ’80s video game sound effects can be put to overuse: Love And Caring, Through The Hoisery.
Ultimately it’s a reasonable effort which fosters a lot of potential.It’ll be far more rewarding for all concerned once Kath and Glass realise a learning curve straightens out only when they choose to.