The Crystal Method - Divided by the Night
Divided by the Night is one of those strange beasts: a ‘dance’ album seemingly aimed at people who don’t like dance music. Those looking for sexy house or filthy techno should look elsewhere. Those looking for indie rock (or hip-hop) vocalists over a battery of noise may want to pull up a stool. Although apparently one of the biggest selling US dance acts throughout the nineties, this, LP number four, marks the first time I’ve heard The Crystal Method. (The duo have also scored various films, TV shows, advertisments and games.)
The best dance LPs bring something fresh to the table. Peter Hook’s basslines (hero that Hook is) on Dirty Thirty and Blunts & Robots are representative of a wider issue here. Not only do they sound like they were phoned in (seemingly from Mars); they make the record sound vaguely dated. And you instantly know there’s a problem when the closest reference points you can draw are Linkin Park (see the synth hook on Sine Language) or bloody Pendulum (Kling to the Wreckage is drum ‘n’ bass with all the nice vibes taken out).
Still, there are three tracks, held back till near the end, which ultimately redeem Divided by the Night. Come Back Clean features a better, bleepier backing track (with a loop worthy of The Chemical Brothers), a sexy vocal from Metric’s Emily Haines and a decent chorus. Black Rainbows also employs a sexy female vocal, this time from Stefanie King Warfield. A buzzy synth line and the repeated refrain of ‘she danced with her hair down’ does help loosen the album up a bit and makes it feel like, well, a bit more of a dance record. Finally, there’s Slipstream, a good bed for Grandaddy’s Jason Lytle. Although nothing radical, fans of that defunct band are sure to enjoy hearing his voice once more.
With three brilliant tracks and the rest pretty much filler, Divided by the Night is the sort of album iTunes was made for.