Saturday, 17 November 2012
''(III)'' Crystal Castles - A Review
''I am the plague''. This is what Alice Glass declares as we begin Crystal Castles III, and it's true that there's always been a certain contagious nature to the Toronto duo's brand of electronical experimental music; detestable and depraved to many but undeniably infectious and intense as far as the band's loyal fanbase is concerned.
The style that Ethan Kath and Alice Glass pioneered in 2008 with I led to an eruption of dark, glitch techno partnered with a soft vocal touch and created the likes of Purity Ring, White Ring and You Love Her Coz She's Dead, bands that developed a genre of shock electronic music and took it to further extremes than it's original leaders. Suddenly, Crystal Castles don't sound so shocking. So where do they go from here?
Well, for a start things have calmed down quite a bit. II was certainly a step in a slower, more synth based sound with songs like ''Not In Love'' and ''Celestica'' introducing a gentler element to the band, but III is a full realisation of Crystal Castles soft side. Third single ''Affection'' is the most noticable example of this early on with a near dubstep approach that Alice croons over to excellent results, while ''Violent Youth'' is a very danceable combination of the band's early work and their newfound delicacy that sounds like a potential single.
The already released ''Plague'' and ''Wrath Of God'' are definite highlights that sound great in the context of the album, while ''Kerosene'' and ''Sad Eyes'' keep things moving along with striking pace. In fact, there's not a single lowlight to be had over the 12 tracks Kath provides us with on III, but the most special of all is saved for last. ''Child I Will Hurt You'' is the most misleading title of the band's discography because they have never made a more beautiful sound. It's a song that shares many similarities with I's finisher ''Tell Me What To Swallow'', and not only in it's domestic abuse subject matter. Both execute their respective records in a poignant, affective manner that couldn't be less expected following a record packed with hardcore electronic tunes and showcases the songwriting talent of Alice Glass who perhaps draws from personal experience. In any case, it's a thing of startling beauty that ends III perfectly and brings a close to an album that has quite simply upped the game for Crystal Castles.
Ultimately, III is the beginning of a new era for Ethan Kath and Alice Glass as they leave behind their shock tactics and begin exploring a mature, developed sound. The fact that there is no ''Alice Practice'' or ''Doe Deer'' on III tells me that Crystal Castles don't need to shock anymore- they're better than that. So while the likes of Purity Ring have impressed in recent times, III ensures that Glass and Kath can look down on the bands they helped to create with assured confidence and know they are still pioneering an area of music that began with them 4 years ago. In a year that has seen it's fair share of disappointing releases from big names, Crystal Castles have delivered, and in some style.