Album Review
Crystal Castles - (III) Album Cover

Crystal Castles - (III)

Reviewed by
Crystal Castles - (III)
Record Label: Casablanca
Release Date: November 13, 2012
This review was written by an AP.net staff member.
It’s difficult to please everyone at once but Crystal Castles somehow manage it. During their eight years of existence the two (wo/)man band have struck a chord with hipsters, dance fans, critics and, of course, Robert Smith, alike. Their brand of electronica with it’s shadow of punk rock has ripped up festivals and dancefloors all over the world. In a couple of words; get ready to dance... in a slightly off-kilter, distorted way whilst still feeling cool! Crystal Castles, Canada’s premiere experimental electronica band, manned by producer Ethan Kath and according to NME, the world’s coolest person, Alice Glass, are back with their third album, the imaginatively titled (III). After the success of the equally imaginatively titled (II), can Crystal Castles gain the critical acclaim and universal love that they garnered with their first two releases?

Of course they can! They’re Crystal Castles, what else did you expect? (III) is a collection of twelve pulsating, floor-filling electronica tracks propelled by Glass’ distinct howl and Kath’s perfect production. From the opening beat of "Plague" to the closing ambient of "Child I Will Hurt You", (III) leaves the listener in a state of slightly confused other-worldliness, but an awesome confused other-worldliness, at that. The record kicks off with single "Plague", its pumping beat and Glass’ somewhat disconnected vocal performance render it both anthemic and abrasive simultaneously. Although the track is ultimately quite strange, it has a quality that makes it seem, somehow, catchy. It could be the repetitive beat or the seemingly primitive chorus, but there is certainly an accessible element within the track that hasn’t really been present in previous efforts by the band. This applies to most of the record. "Kerosene" and it’s 8bit game leanings is quite simply put, a song for goth parties, however it has an infectious beat and towards the end of the track, there certainly is potential for a singalong. Closer, "Child I Will Hurt You" takes the newfound accessibility to another level with it’s twinkling and general dream-pop vibe. Sounding like it would fit right in amongst Beach House’s repertoire, the track shows why, actually, Crystal Castles edging towards a softer sounder sound may not be a bad thing and it’s a highlight of the release.

Don’t worry though, if you want esoteric, Crystal Castles will always provide. “Insulin” is absolutely crazy and is basically the listening equivalent to staring at flashing strobe lighting for two minutes. Although the individual parts of the track are somewhat indistinguishable, “Insulin” makes for an intense listening experience. “Transgender” is incredibly haunting. The bouncy beat, disembodied vocals and cold, repetitive lyrics (“You’ll never be pure again”) are at one with one another and they leave listener tapping their foot and crying about the futility of life simultaneously. Throughout the release Glass’ vocals are quite perfect. She does exactly what we’ve come to expect from her and her voice remains as wild and distinct as ever. It would be interesting to hear Glass a little clearer sometimes, as often throughout the record her vocals are a little drowned out by the omnipresent wall of sound. Whilst this may be intentional, the vocals and lyrics don’t get a chance to shine on the record. The production on the record is pretty spectacular with highly similar beats being used in very different ways, so the album never comes across too repetitive.

Largely, (III) is an excellent album. Crystal Castles have not just recreated their first two records, they have developed as a band and their sound has morphed greatly. At certain parts of the record, it feels like Crystal Castles have sacrificed their experimentation and innovation for a, dare I say, more straight up sound. Much of (III) could soundtrack any indie dancefloor around the world and there are no doubts that it shall propel the duo further in the eyes of their public, however there is a slight fear that future releases may lead more into the dance-pop area, something which could be disastrous for the band, but right now, Crystal Castles have honed their sound to it’s best form so far and they are the best at what they do.

Recommended If You LikeHealth; The xx crossed with Justice; Purity Ring; dancing yourself into a fit of tears

Additional Information Track Listing
1. Plague
2. Kerosene
3. Wrath Of God
4. Affection
5. Pale Flesh
6. Sad Eyes
7. Insulin
8. Transgender
9. Violent Youth
10. Telepath
11. Mercenary
12. Child I Will Hurt You

Band Members
Alice Glass
Ethan Kath

Displaying posts 1 - 15 of 22
07:12 AM on 11/18/12
This Charming Man
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SpyKi's Avatar
"Child I Will Hurt You" is incredible. I've never more than mildly enjoyed a Beach House song though..
07:19 AM on 11/18/12
easy come and easy go, whatever
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Jeff_Ryan's Avatar
This album gets better with every listen. I really want to see them live
08:16 AM on 11/18/12
Wings That Work
What A Bunch of Fools We Lovers Are
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Wings That Work's Avatar
Affection is my favorite song on this album. I was disappointed in (II) but this one is so good. I like it more than (I)
08:44 AM on 11/18/12
listens to good music
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Archael's Avatar
I don't like this one, II was pretty cool.
08:58 AM on 11/18/12
I drove through ghosts to get here.
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kemichels's Avatar
I was hoping Eda would review this so we could have a totally unbiased review.
09:37 AM on 11/18/12
Regular Member
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CapitalG24's Avatar
Listened to this album on repeat for a few days, really is incredible
10:46 AM on 11/18/12
Ryan Gardner
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Ryan Gardner's Avatar
Really solid review, Kelly. Huge fan of your writing.

Need to check these guys out. Best starting point?
12:04 PM on 11/18/12
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StepsInADance's Avatar
Enjoyed this a lot more than I thought I would, been listening to it nonstop since it came out.
12:21 PM on 11/18/12
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dashboardkid88's Avatar
Album gets better with each listen. It is awesome.
01:40 PM on 11/18/12
Registered User
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AtomicPunk316's Avatar
"Kath’s perfect production" I disagree. Some of the songs have too much low end and it drowns out the rest. I don't like saying this because Crystal Castles is probably my favorite band after Van Halen.
01:47 PM on 11/18/12
Registered User
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xtbs7645x's Avatar
"Kath’s perfect production" I disagree. Some of the songs have too much low end and it drowns out the rest. I don't like saying this because Crystal Castles is probably my favorite band after Van Halen.
The production is very hit or miss. Works for some songs, others not at all.
03:08 PM on 11/18/12
Wings That Work
What A Bunch of Fools We Lovers Are
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Wings That Work's Avatar
Need to check these guys out. Best starting point?
They don't really have a huge catalog. Just start with (I) and work your way through!
03:44 PM on 11/18/12
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steve187's Avatar
i can't stop listening
08:27 PM on 11/18/12
Registered User
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arson's Avatar
The production is very hit or miss. Works for some songs, others not at all.
Just curious, what songs do you think it doesn't work for?

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