Crystal Castles, (III)

Crystal Castles, <i>(III)</i>

There is so much music out there these days that I find myself having to limit what I listen to and what I buy, because it’s expensive and because I just don’t have the time to listen to everything. Sometimes it will take me years of hearing about a band in magazines or on the Internet before I actually sit down and give them a listen. Such is the case with Crystal Castles.

I’ve heard their name for years now. I’ve seen their LPs on the shelves of all the record stores I frequent. I’ve seen my friends’ Instagram pictures their live show. I’ve heard and seen the hype everywhere, but I had never listened to them before their third album, properly titled (III).

Crystal Castles’ sound is pretty much how I imagined it would be: dark, gothic, pulsating beats set to frail, whispering lyrics and various samples scattered throughout. The whole time I was listening to (III), I couldn’t shake the comparison to noise-rock duo Sleigh Bells. While Crystal Castles’ sound isn’t quite as “in-your-face-kick-your-ass” as Sleigh Bells’ loud, raunchy, guitar-shredding tunes, it’s got the same falsetto-type vocals set to the underlying dark, grinding sounds. I would venture to say that CC’s sound is still darker than Sleigh Bells’ music, and significantly more lo-fi.

“Sad Eyes” is my favorite track off the album. It’s aggressive, fast-paced, and would sound fantastic in a club or small venue. It almost sounds like some European electro music from the late ’90s, and it’s incredible. If I were seeing CC live, this would be the song I would be waiting for all night, and the one that would make their performance epic.

In my mind, “Sad Eyes” is also the dividing point in the album. It’s the sixth track, but also the beginning of the best part of the album. (III)‘s first five tracks are great and open the album to listeners, but they are for the most part slower and more experimental. Right as I began to think that the songs were all sounding the same, this track came on and completely changed my opinion and perception of the rest of the album.

I don’t think I’ve ever listened to an album arranged where I favor the second half of the album to the first, but I’ve found it here with (III). While the first half of the album is more low-key, like “Pale Flesh,” where singer Alice Glass’s shrill cries reminded me of Yeah Yeah Yeah’s frontwoman Karen O., the second half explodes in listeners’ ears, with dance beats that would fit on rotation in any dance club.

“Transgender,” for one, takes about a minute to escalate into a full-on dance track, but the wait just builds the suspense and it delivers. Further on, the last two tracks on the album begin to take the form of how the first few started out — with more experimental, drawn-out, slower tracks — and end the album similar to how it began.

Granted, hearing (III) is my only real experience with Crystal Castles, but I was extremely impressed after my time spent with the album and definitely recommend it.

(Fiction Records -- 364-366 Kensington High St., London, W14 8NS ENGLAND; http://www.fictionrecords.co.uk/; Universal Music Group -- http://www.universalmusic.com/; Crystal Castles -- http://www.crystalcastles.com/; Crystal Castles (Facebook) -- http://www.facebook.com/ccrystalccastles)
BUY ME: Amazon

Review by . Review posted Tuesday, December 4th, 2012. Filed under Features, Reviews.

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