Crystal Castles
Crystal Castles II


4.0
excellent

Review

by Smevin Bravis USER (10 Reviews)
April 25th, 2010 | 307 replies


Release Date: 2010 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Crystal Castles haven't grown any more sophisticated or interesting in titling their albums, but thankfully they have with their music.

Crystal Castles was never exactly a groundbreaking force in the whole 8-bit, chiptune, whatever-you-want-to-call-it genre they emerged from. What made vocalist Alice Glass' and multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath’s take on it so exciting was the energy, the pop sensibilities, and attitude they brought to the proverbial table. It wasn’t wholly original, but they had some interesting ideas, and... well, it didn’t hurt that Glass is so easy on the eyes, either. On their sophomore effort, which is a self titled one like their first (they’re too cool to title their albums, man), they downplay the glitchy bleeps a bit to flesh out their sound a bit more, and it pays off wonderfully.

The widened scope of their sound is displayed perfectly with the first two tracks. Fainting Spells opens up Crystal Castles’ second self titled album with an ungodly, ear piercing cacophony that rages on for two minutes before some semblance of an actual beat appears. It comes together nicely, but then abruptly ends, with gloomy dancefloor-friendly single Celestica picking up nearly exactly where it leaves off. Celestica, like the lion’s share of the tracks, has a sweet dreaminess to it that could almost sound warm, if not for the icy, robotic production. A lot of this is due to how good Kath is with applying effects to Glass’ voice; he enhances her already alternately sweet and vicious voice by either smothering it with echo or drowning it with distortion, getting the maximum result from each extremity. Then there are songs (particularly the pair of Violent Dreams and Vietnam) where the tweaking is something else altogether, in the same vein as the weirder vocal moments from the debut, but pushed a bit more, even resembling that of the Knife’s Karin Dreijer Andersson at times. Another great quality of Kath’s production that we’re reminded of is his impeccable taste in samples, as demonstrated by Year of Silence’s throbbing, fuzzy bass and synth topped over by a disorienting loop of Sigur Rós’ Jónsi Birgisson singing.

The fact that Crystal Castles have branched out as well as they have is quite impressive, especially considering how gimmicky their nintendo bleep centered debut could come across at times. Crystal Castles are by turns blistering and beautiful here, and are at times even able to pull off both simultaneously (like on the utterly brilliant Baptism). There isn’t as cohesive a feel as on their debut, but that’s to be expected when experimenting this broadly with a base sound. Besides, even at the most disjointed moments (the harsh Doe Deer and Birds come to mind), everything is very well constructed, and the songs are able to blend in with the rest of the album at least on the grounds that they share a disorienting and cold quality found just about everywhere else.

There really isn’t much to complain about with Crystal Castles’ second (self titled) album. The impressive broadening of their sound finds the duo less reliant on fashionably low res electronics, getting better ideas, and putting them to better use. In a way, this is a very relieving album; it shows the duo growing from something potentially campy into something more full bodied and listenable, and it’s easy to see this set of songs standing alongside the year’s best. The only thing I really dread about it is that I know it's going to be in heavy rotation at hipster clothing stores all over by the time summer hits.



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user ratings (659)
Chart.
3.7
great
other reviews of this album
Kevin K (4)
CC2 is just the kind of sophomore release you want to see from an artist, with Glass and Kath findin...

Dylan S. (4.5)
This is your baptism. And you can't forgive them....


Comments:Add a Comment 
dylantheairplane
April 25th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

Damn I wanted to post the first review for this. Good review though

Plutonio
April 25th 2010


474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I LOVE THIS ALBUM.

I probably shouldn't.

dylantheairplane
April 25th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

No you should

Buccaneer
April 25th 2010


692 Comments


I hate this band.

But solid review man

Wizard
April 25th 2010


19501 Comments


Thought this was funeral doom judging by album art hahahaha.

Digging: Godflesh - A World Lit Only By Fire

bloc
April 25th 2010


34919 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0 | Sound Off

Can't stand these guys. But this was better than the first.

Plutonio
April 25th 2010


474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Celestica is sooo good but don't tell anyone.

Shadow17
April 25th 2010


67 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

Digging this greatly. Just plain love it. Some stand-out tracks and some lesser ones, but amazing, nonetheless.

Athom
Staff Reviewer
April 25th 2010


17222 Comments


shit rules

2muchket!
April 25th 2010


900 Comments

Album Rating: 2.0

pos'd

but this fucking sucks

ArmyOfRage
April 25th 2010


230 Comments


Great review, although I'm not liking this as much as I liked the original.

Plutonio
April 25th 2010


474 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

I'm basically a carbon-copy of Pitchfork and I hate it.

akiro
April 25th 2010


2 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5

It took me a good while to get into, but this is a big improvement in their carreer.

Ghostechoes
April 25th 2010


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I enjoyed Crimewave and Magic Spells from their previous album, so I will check this out.

PoodleRapist
April 25th 2010


254 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

wow, thanks for the kind words, everybody!

@Plutonio: hell no dude, love it! it's awesome! and if it makes you feel any better, it makes me feel weird when i'm all "yeah, you sure called that one pitchfork!" too.

@wizard: haha yeah, no shit... the album may as well be called "Ha Ha Your Mommy's Dead"

@2muchket! & butters... er, armyofrage: i'm glad that you liked the review despite not liking the album at least! what exactly rubbed you guys the wrong way?

@bailar: yeah, it's one of those "it was funny at the time" type things...

ghostechoes: dooo it

hehe and yeah, celestica is nauseatingly awesome :D



Ghostechoes
April 25th 2010


1353 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

I'm basically a carbon-copy of Pitchfork and I hate it.

I have had the same problem.

dragonaut
April 25th 2010


62 Comments


This is definitely better than the debut, Baptism and Birds the standouts for me.

Waior
April 25th 2010


11454 Comments


piqued my curiosity, great review

dylantheairplane
April 25th 2010


2170 Comments

Album Rating: 4.5 | Sound Off

"Birds" in the only track on here I really dislike

Roach
April 25th 2010


2148 Comments


didnt like the single that much



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