Crystal Castles, (III)

Andrew Parks

By Andrew Parks

on 11.13.12 in Reviews


Crystal Castles
As vinegary and vicious as ever

It’s easy to be cynical about Crystal Castles, to reduce their blank stares and shit-eating sneers to a well-rehearsed caricature of rebellion and pre-apocalyptic rock ‘n’ roll: The Sex Pistols of the Steve Aoki set. But that’s selling their self-assured sound short. Decidedly DIY from the start, it’s as vinegary and vicious as ever on (III), a pressure-cooked LP that melds the mercurial mood swings of singer Alice Glass with Ethan Kath’s volcanic builds, lumbering bass lines, heat-seeking synths and shifty breakdowns that suck the listener into a black hole of absolute despair. That’s the thing about Crystal Castles – the more successful they get, the more miserable they seem to become. And not in a woe-is-me, we-sure-miss-playing-basement-shows sort of way either – their blog-born success ensured they never played basements in the first place. More like a deadly serious document of how far society has fallen, as hinted at in recurring lyrical themes of impurity and oppression, and hammered home by a record sleeve that reprints an award-winning photo of a Yemeni woman holding her tear gas-traumatized son at a street demonstration. Like the most genuine hardcore music of the Reagan era, (III) is a battle cry that can’t be contained, only this time it’s being presented through a web of whiplashed loops and barbed wire beats. Dance music for the end of days, then.