Crystal Stilts, Nature Noir

Ian Cohen

By Ian Cohen

on 09.17.13 in Reviews
Staying the course, three LPs and 10 years into their career

Happiness is hard to come by in the world of Crystal Stilts — heavy on Joy Division, not much joy, plenty of White Light, White Heat and a total dearth of sunlight. And yet, there’s something extremely comforting about the NYC mope-mavens, as they inform you that the Velvet Underground, Flying Nun and Lee Hazelwood records that got passed down from your cool uncle to your older sister to yourself (and onto your teenage cousin) can and should be required listening for anyone who considers themselves a fan of indie rock. Now 10 years into their career, Crystal Stilts have about five decades’ worth of ironclad credibility giving them reason to stay the course on their third LP Nature Noire. There are certain, incremental tuneups that sound colossal within Crystal Stilts’ fully-formed aesthetic: Real-deal strings illuminate “Memory Room” and “Future Folklore” integrates blue-collar classic rock of the ’60s into their ’70s-based, all-black art-rock. But the quintet aren’t going to fundamentally alter what got them here in the first place — rhythmic interplay that never advances beyond “perpetually hungover” and Brad Hargett’s baritone drawl going for “Most Dour Man in Brooklyn,” something like The National’s Matt Berninger for the non-showered, non-blue-blazered. Is it starting to get a little stifling this far in? Certainly, but that’s kind of the whole point of Nature Noire — there are all kinds of advances being made in society and music, but those are someone else’s concerns here. And that’s comforting.