Crystal Castles are one of those bands that you are never quite sure what genre to label them in your Itunes library. Their unique brand of sonic disorientation has made them one of my personal favourite acts and they have managed to create their own niche in the highly competitive electro/alternative market. What makes them even more special is they are part of a rare breed – a musical act that is actually better live than on record. The last time I saw them, the singer Alice Glass had broken her leg but that did not prevent the show from being so savage and visceral. It culminated in Alice on top of a speaker thrusting her crutch in the air.
Their latest collection is their third and continues the development into more understated and introspective sounds rather than the wall-of-noise approach of their debut. The depth of the sound here is incredible; every time you listen you’ll hear something new. The vocal filters are still here, but they are not as heavily as distorted as before – sometimes you might actually make out some of the lyrics. And the lyrics are brilliant – just look at this example from lead single ‘Plague’:
“Virgin cells to penetrate
Too premature to permeate
They can’t elucidate
Never thought i was the enemy”
It’s extremely hard to single out highlights on a Crystal Castles album as it comes as a package but apart from the aforementioned ‘Plague’ which starts simmering before building to a frenetic crescendo, the best track on the album is ‘Sad Eyes’. It’s a masterclass in melancholy and almost like a pop song but with all the Crystal Castles trademarks you come to expect. It sounds like the sister of Robert Smith collaboration ‘Not In Love’. Other notable highlights are ‘Kerosene’ and second single ‘Wrath Of God’. Special mention goes to the final track on the album, the subdued, almost orchestral and altogether magnificent ‘Child I Will Hurt You’. I’m not sure what came over me, but the track almost reduced me to tears. This is a fantastic album and if you haven’t before, now is the time to check out Crystal Castles.