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LITERATURE

 » Full Dark, No Stars - Stephen King's new novella questions mankind's ability to trust others.
[02.21.2011 by Bridget Doyle]

MUSIC

 » The Top 30 Albums of 2010 - Fashionably, fabulously late, our favorite music (and believe me, there was a LOT) of 2010, the year that some have called the best year for music ever. And only some of those fools work here. Plenty of usual suspects, lots of ties and a few surprises that I won't spoil, including our unexpected #1.
[12.24.2010 by The LAS Staff]

MUSIC

 » Live: Surfer Blood/The Drums at Lincoln Hall, Chicago, IL - Remember when Weezer used to put together records that you could sing along to and rock out to? That's what Surfer Blood's show was like!
[11.04.2010 by Cory Tendering]

Music Reviews

Screaming Females - Castle Talk
»Screaming Females
Castle Talk
Don Giovanni
Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross - The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
»Trent Reznor & Atticus Ross
The Social Network [Original Soundtrack]
The Null Corporation
Deerhunter - Halcyon Digest
»Deerhunter
Halcyon Digest
4AD
No Age - Everything in Between
»No Age
Everything in Between
Sub Pop
Robyn - Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
»Robyn
Body Talk Pt. 1/ Body Talk Pt. 2
Konichiwa
The Walkmen - Lisbon
»The Walkmen
Lisbon
Fat Possum
Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles
Last Gang

Rating: 8.2/10 ?


May 14, 2010
Shrieks and beats punctuate Crystal Castles' second consecutive eponymous album, in which the Canadian tandem reinvestigates their brand of angsty 8-bit electronica. Synths layered in various flavors of distortion once again accompany the wounded yelps of Alice Glass, with a more sensitive (read: accessible) side of the singer augmented by a softer, more ethereal focus. On their first go-round, the attitude was consistently aggressive and grim, a sort of punk-in-techno-clothing that sneered at you in such an adorable way that you just wanted to take it home and play it for your little sister. The sequel is a graceful transition into more polished product with an emphasis on detail and melody-all while retaining the visceral screech of the debut.

Minimal, metronomic beats showcase an energy-efficient method of production, with an improved sense of timing. Case in point: the fierce "Doe Deer," (which clocks in at all of 1:26) stomps around just long enough to leave you feeling a bit taken advantage of after the strikingly pretty (yes, pretty) and vulnerable standout "Celestica." Little quirks like that track's intervallic squeal lend extra atmosphere until the final moments, when it reappears and signifies the culminating shift in pitch that caps off the song in a melancholic daze. The intricacies of such heavily edited tracks like "Suffocation" and the ominous glitch symphony that is "Vietnam" exhibit the increase in production values, and even surprisingly strong pop sensibilities.

Perhaps the song that best represents Crystal Castles Mark II is "Baptism," wherein Ms. Glass affectedly hollers about, yep, a "baptism," in between a Vengaboys-esque verse that suggests a nightmarish trip to Six Flags. The fact that the throbbing second verse sounds like an eerie version of Justin Timberlake's "My Love" kind of sums up the whole album: it's hard pop for those who enjoy all the signature elements of electro and punk but finds either template too safe and mundane individually. Conversely, this is some mighty fine computer rock-bratty and brash with enough tactful electro touches overlaid to sufficiently offset the grime. This artful exchange of menace and charm is Crystal Castles, what set them apart from the other "blog house" also-rans on their rise to prominence, and on this evidence their sensibilities have significantly improved.

Reviewed by Eric Collin Wedgewood


See other reviews by Eric Collin Wedgewood

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