Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles (II)
Despite a phased release between physical and digital product due to an unfortunate leak the new Crystal Castles album is finally upon us. Following in the footsteps of Led Zeppelin the album is named after the band - again.
So as we arrive on Crystal Castles level 2 is this going to be a Whole Lotta Love or a Heartbreaker? Let me Ramble On and I'll tell you (please stop now - ed). From the off it's clear that they have made a departure from their earlier material, moving away from their chip tune roots towards the clubs. Just as the spotty teen was enticed from games of Turrican on their Commodore 64 towards MDMA-laced euphoric rave culture it would appear that these Canadians are making a similar journey.
On their debut electronics and voice stood shoulder to shoulder; yet here they bleed into one another. There is far more shredding and distortion of Alice's vocals than previously and whilst this shows healthy progression there are times when it would be preferable for Alice to push her voice in into these places without digital assistance - her heart and soul will always eclipse that of the machine. That said, it's still a very strong record made up of a few exceptional tracks. 'Empathy' pushes into AFX-acid territory and 'I Am Made Of Chalk' - despite sounding like Mario and Luigi drowning kittens in a bath - is a spine-tingling and emotive close to the album. After meeting Sigur Rós's Jónsi on tour and realising their mutual love of each other's work he allowed them to sample 'Inní mér syngur vitleysingur' for the spellbinding 'Year Of Silence'. It's one of the best things they have ever done, juxtaposing a throbbing 8-bit bass with haunting vocals to tremendous effect.
All in all it's a cohesive and accomplished electronic album. Despite lacking some of the blood, sweat and tears of their debut its progression highlights that this duo are not short of ideas or ambition.