Review Summary: Not only have The Crystal Method found a way to incorporate their best moments from their previous albums with more spacious style, but they also add an organic instrumental atmosphere that lifts the album off its feet.
The Crystal Method comprise of a duo: Ken Jordan & Scott Kirkland who started churning out memorable dance hits after roaming the underground rave scene for years. Inspired by L.A. rave scene that brought energy and beats, the duo set out to bring about the same experiences within their debut ‘Vegas’. Being fresh and addictive ‘Vegas’ was a great start for the duo, garnering huge success. “Get Busy Child”, “Keep Hope Alive”, “High Roller”, was just the few fantastic tracks that their massive debut had to offer. Despite their new found fame The Crystal Method found it difficult to replicate the same type of focus and solidarity in their next two releases: ‘Tweekend’ and ‘Legion of Boom’. Both had considerable hits such as the highly infectious “Name of The Game” and “Born Too Slow”, adding somewhat different approaches from their debut. The problem was The Crystal Method seemed to have repetition with these albums allowing them to dim out pretty quickly, ‘Tweekend’ being the culprit more so than ‘Legion of Boom’. Now in 2009, the duo tries to pick themselves up from their small fall from grace. I’ll make it as clear as I can possibly put it. Much like their oversea contemporaries The Chemical Brothers, the Crystal Method’s fall from their debut wasn’t exactly substantial enough to warrant immediate worry, but the fact their next few albums weren’t as cohesive, energetic, and allowed more repetition then ‘Vegas’ did bring up some flags.
Would ‘Divided By Night’ bring in the same big beats and energy ‘Vegas’ did or maybe the hip-hop atmosphere that was scattered in ‘Tweekend’? What about the massive synth and distortion based ‘Legion of Boom’? While ‘Vegas’ showed the huge promise of their original inspiration, ‘Tweekend’ left us confused with its partial resemblance. ‘Legion of Boom’ seemed to work in many ways despite the overuse of synth and distortion at times. ‘Divided By Night’ tries another method by the duo in which they try to develop a more lively entity. The music feels more alive than The Crystal Method’s previous attempts. The electronic output and various drumming stages all feel natural unlike ‘Vegas’ where the album feels manufactured with huge amounts of energy. The intro track “Divided By Night” isn’t really anything heard before by The Crystal Method. Almost an entirely different approach it isn’t booming with huge beats or massive distortion or even simple repetitive vocalizations, instead it feels something out of a Daft Punk album, odd indeed.
If you listen carefully ‘Divided By Night’ almost feels spacious enough for you to dismiss it as being The Crystal Method. There are moments of illustrious distortion in “Dirty Thirty (Featuring Peter Hook)”, but what is remarkable is the fact it the album paces itself extremely well. The Crystal Method style in manufacturing booming bass, loud and complex electronic loops that get you moving aren’t necessarily seen on here. It feels, well fresh and understandably so. The Crystal Method’s formula and attempts to try to find a new direction were wearing thin, despite the few glimpses of promise in their previous 2 efforts they weren’t anything special at all. ‘Divided By Night’ takes on the approach of a more wide open sound, not nearly as centered on one concept, instead meshing the clarity of ‘Vegas’’ beats while adding more organic sound with the instruments incorporated on here.
Jordan and Kirkland must have found something in last few years to entice them at this approach because it feels right in so many ways. Guitars muddled in the background, clear-cut soundscapes, organic lively drums, and hip-hop vocalizations that mimic ‘Tweekend’ without its repetitiveness or boredom. “Drown In The Now (Featuring Matisyahu)” is exactly what I’m talking about. The beat never stops growing while Matisyahu keeps on throwing his verses at you. Previously you would be hard pressed to see this type of evolution The Crystal Method would offer in ‘Tweekend’. “Kling To The Wreckage (Featuring Justin Warfield)” isn’t really a great track by any means, but it changes the pace by adding a more rock-oriented approach while sticking with the organic atmosphere that is seen within the album. This is what I mean when The Crystal Method became horribly boring at key points in their album. They would stick with one path, repeat, on and on again. Even if some of those tracks were fantastic the lot of them was absurdly tiring.
‘Divided By Night’ will be seen as a success in the eyes of many who were tiring with The Crystal Method, not only with their approach, energetic pace, but more importantly direction of their albums. ‘Divided By Night’ adds the synth and distortion from ‘Legion of Boom’ in “Smile” and add a keyboard aspect that enhances it to a higher degree, yet remind us of the best moments of ‘Tweekend’ with “Drown In The Now”. The biggest reason why ‘Divided By Night’ isn’t utterly irritating to the point of frustration is the variety that The Crystal Method offer the listener. Keyboard sequences, synth, distortion, electronic loops, like in previous albums, but they have added an organic atmosphere within their instruments that brings out the best of the album. The problems stem from their featured artists, LMFAO and Emily Haines comes to mind. While the beat and electronic movements within Sine Language aren’t the problem LMFAO’s lyrical output is just terrible and pathetic. Emily Haines’ contirubtion to this album really doesn’t work with the album and is clouded with massive electronic noise in between noises. Her poppy lyrical verses and electronic atmosphere don’t mesh well at all, frankly it is the easy decision to skip this track. You’ll even sense an industrial influence upon a few tracks like “Double Down Under”. Despite the few problems within the album, these types of variety The Crystal Method bring on ‘Divided By Night’ really help them in the long run.