Sunday, May 16, 2010

Crystal Castles (II)

Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles (II)
8.6 out of 10

A couple of years ago, I fell in love with the first cd from Cyrstal Castles. It was a striking combination of amazing agit-electro that was tempered with some very moving passages. My fear, based on the album itself, was that there was really nowhere from them to take their sound to the next level. Imagine my surprise upon hearing the new cd, irritatingly called Crystal Castles as well, and finding that my fears were completely misbegotten. The new release is a fantastic step forward without losing what made their sound so distinctive.

What is immediately noticeable is that they are now more willing to embrace a more pop-leaning sound. First single "Celestica" is a prime example:

Under arena ready synths, the song builds slowly and delicately, and Alice Glass demonstrates that she has a lovely and haunting voice, when Ethan Kath is not electronically shredding and distorting it within an inch of its life.

Of course, this being Crystal Castles, there are plenty of songs that beat you over the head with electronic precision and leave you feeling breathless and spent. However, the pacing of the cd is such that they come at appropriate moments and do not disrupt the flow. One of my favorites is "Doe Deer" which almost sounds like Alice Glass's voice is being brutally strained through the speaker.

There are several lower key and beautiful moments on this release. Another favorite is a track that samples a vocal from a Sigur Ros song.

And there are plenty of other amazing radio friendly songs along the lines of "Celestica."

I was so thrilled that Crystal Castles made such a wonderful album that plays to all their strengths, without losing any of their power and ability to be confrontational. I only hope that their slightly more accessible sound will expand their audience. Crystal Castles has shown they are here to stay.

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