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Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles Crystal Castles

23 April 2010 (digital)
24 May 2010 (physical)
Producer Ethan Kath
Label Fiction
Length 52:54
Genre Electronic, experimental
Website crystalcastles.com

Emerging from complete obscurity around three years ago Crystal Castles have come a long way. Coming off the back of internet self promotion and a French inspired, nu-rave, bit crunching distortion craze that was prevalent at the time this Canadian duo seem to have come out a great deal better than some groups. Is it because they're Canadian? Who knows? The fact that Canada is so fertile musically has surely nurtured their talent and with this release allowed them to transcend their previous record with an album that sounds both accomplished and confident.

Their unmistakable distorted freneticism and heaviness on mid range frequency is still present but they have expanded their dynamic range and explore the stereo spread to the fullest. The opener 'Fainting Spells' is so similar to the first album it seems like a joke; possibly put right at the start to annoy their critics and please their loyal fans. Here the similarity ends and 'Celestica', the first single, is a radio friendly shoe gazing anthem which will no doubt gain a great deal of air play.

'Baptism' comes at you like a demented club anthem with throbbing bassline, blipping melody, enormous synth stabs and inexplicably maniacal vocals capable of cracking every window in your house. 'Year of Silence' takes a sample of Jonsi from Sigur Ros and turns it into something completely new. The fact that he's singing in Icelandic combined with the brooding accompaniment makes Jonsi sound somewhat menacing, if that's possible.

'Vietnam' is possibly the most impressive track simply because it takes something they only hinted at previously, euphoric ascending melodies/bassline, and expands on it. A great deal of the album feels like a revision of their sound, a real exercise in playing to your strengths.

The record does fade slightly for the last third but overall it is a triumph. A genuinely exciting, challenging and enjoyable record.

- Gary McDonough