Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles
Record Label : Lies/Last Gang
Release Date : March 18, 2008
From the get go, Crystal Castles have denied their name being affiliated with the classic Atari video-game, instead saying they're named after She Ra's fortress. Even if that's where their name comes from, the Atari inspiration is prevalent throughout their debut after its reveal in opening track “Untrust Us” which has a sound that will evoke nostalgia in anyone who's ever played a 16-bit game in their life. When blended with a pop hook that producer/songwriter Ethan Kath mixes in so effortlessly along with various 80's pop and heavy techno synths, it's clear to see why the Toronto band have such a devoted fanbase. Their fanbase can partly be attributed to the role the internet, which has played a role in raising their profile in the music world.
It isn't just Kath's electronic wizardry that helps Crystal Castle's debut stand out from the rest. It's Alice Glass' unique vocals that give the tracks a new dimension. What was just a 16 track long record of sweeping low-res electronic beats has new life breathed into it by Glass' varied voice that one minute can be barking on “Alice Practise” so loud that mega doesn't even cover it, and at other times she can be acting like a defunct android screaming about robotic love. Glass isn't present on every track, however. "Magic Spells" is a six minute long serene instrumental which is much needed from all the berserk and hectic tracks that come beforehand. The album is at its strongest, however, when Kath's top class production value and Glass' vocals merge.
Case in point? “Courtship Dating” has Kath delivering fizzy synths whilst Glass tries to outshout the animal screams that are also on show, making a track that makes you understand why some people classify the band's early work as club music. Although the music may sound fairly upbeat and easy to dance along to, the lyrics are far from optimistic with many of the tracks distributing some unsettling imagery such as birds with rabies and kids playing with corpses. Not exactly your happy lyrics about getting drunk and high, eh?
Ending track "Tell Me What To Swallow" definitely stands out thanks to it's comforting combination of acoustic guitars and ghostly synths with Glass' voice haunting quietly in the background. To some it may be a bit anticlimactic but it's a welcoming change from the bombardment of basses and blaring synths and shows that Glass and Kath are open to experimenting. Although some might think that electro music is becoming more bland and stale, Kath and Glass have arrived to breath life into a tired genre.