Monday, November 12, 2012

Crystal Castles: "III" (album review)

Undoubtedly, there will be folks lined up around the block to heap praise upon III, the new album from Toronto electronic act Crystal Castles.  Personally, I find myself struggling mightily to say something nice.  It would be extremely difficult to exaggerate how hard this album is on the ears.

Bad techno beats are the order of the day.  It doesn't get much worse than "Sad Eyes", a song so dripping with Eurotrash vibes that it could be the theme song for a soccer tournament.

Pulsing beats are overlayed with staticky electronics on the schizophrenic "Plague".  Distracting wah wahs remove any sense of flow from "Kerosene".  It all makes you wonder if Crystal Castles have been listening to too much Atari Teenage Riot and now believe it's 1996.

The swoops on "Telepath" sound like the results of leaving a cassette tape on your dashboard on a sunny summer's day.  That's not a good thing.

Most infuriating of all is the way the group waste Alice's ethereal vocals.  Her performances may very well be lovely, but we never get to enjoy them because they are all too often hacked up into a thousand tiny pieces.  When they are left intact, like on "Affection" and "Violent Youth", they are drowned in so much synthetic nonsense that you can't focus on what could have been the album's saving grace.

The one bright moment of the record comes on "Insulin".  Computerized elements spew forth in fits and starts, but manage to string together a coherent and compelling narrative.  Of course, the one standout track would also happen to be the shortest one on the record.

When all is said and done, the best part of III is that it only has a 39-minute running time.

Best tracks: "Insulin"

Track listing for III:
  • Plague
  • Kerosene
  • Wrath of God
  • Affection
  • Pale Flesh
  • Sad Eyes
  • Insulin
  • Transgender
  • Violent Youth
  • Telepath
  • Mercenary
  • Child, I Will Hurt You


Anonymous said...

completely agreed!! this is bad!

Anonymous said...

Wrong wrong wrong
A change of direction isn't always a bad thing.
Insulin is, by far, the worst track on the album. Mindless noise is no longer the theme of the day.
Crystal Castles: say hello to Tune. Tune: this is Crystal Castles. How are you? We could make this work? Voila!
That said, saw them at Electric Picnic though and they were TERRIBLE...