The Crystal Method
The Crystal Method


2.5
average

Review

by Will Robinson STAFF
January 15th, 2014 | 48 replies


Release Date: 01/14/2014 | Tracklist

Review Summary: The EDM machine takes another prisoner.

Only two tracks into The Crystal Method, the lifeless, trashy “Over It” sounds a death knell. Though it’s fortunately the worst song on the album by far, it’s telling of how far the American breakbeat duo has fallen. No longer content (or possibly able) to make ravey, earth-shattering breaks, The Crystal Method has resorted to formulaic EDM tropes, as evidenced by the boring wobbles of the song’s straight-ahead brostep. And while “Over It” is only one of two misguided half-time segments (and thank heavens for that), the extent of the big-room influence is all too prominent. It’s a conundrum, really: there are great, vibrant tracks like “Sling The Decks” peppered throughout, Aforementioned misguided half-time section notwithstanding, tracks like this show the best side of the album, incorporating the best of the party-starting electro tropes of today into the distorted power chords and high-energy breaks that have worked so well for the producers in the past. It’s truly odd that songs that are as fun as the few good ones are so uncommon here.

Unfortunately, for every solid track there are three or four far inferior ones. The Crystal Method works best when they’re fiddling around with ecstasy-laden breakbeats, and it’s nice to see the Divided By Night-esque sound actually work sometimes, but by and large the house bent apparent in outside influences like Le Castle Vania and Nick Thayer detracts massively from the experience. Taking “Storm The Castle,” for example, the cloying synths and two-dimensional beat sully the typically energetic TCM sound. There are still classic elements of their wonderful breakbeat tracks - distorted guitars, high-pitched whines, stuttered roars - but by and large what’s worked in the past takes a backseat to rotting electro-house arpeggios and too much focus on slick, superficial production techniques.

More importantly, “Storm The Castle” shows what’s really the major problem with the album - lack of creativity. The obvious big-room EDM elements contribute - formulaic beats, uninteresting synths - but the root problem of said big-room EDM especially hurts: uninteresting song structures. Every so often, you get a great tune like “Jupiter Shift,” a rare occurrence of a mostly straight-ahead beat still sounding lively and charged. Of course, it helps that TCM’s drums are better than the flat kicks and anemic snares of standard pop-house fare, and in a rare example in modern maximalist 4x4 the duo’s distortion and compression doesn’t solely revolve around one or two notes. However, that’s unfortunately not the case for most of the album. Picking the worst offender out of a handful of bad tracks, “Dosimeter” serves as an ineffective counterpoint to tracks like “Jupiter Shift,” as its moombah-influenced electro house focuses too much on fancy compression and not enough on actually making an interesting song. The unfortunate result is that the all-too-similar lead synths create plodding syncopation, complete with obnoxiously repetitive wobbles and a distractingly tedious two-steppy beat. The problems with “Dosimeter” aren’t isolated, either - “Emulator,” “After Hours,” and “Graces” especially (ignoring the god-awful LeAnn Rimes vocals on the latter for a moment) suffer from a near-total imagination deficiency.

Despite everything, there’s still at least some life and ingenuity on The Crystal Method when all is said and done. However, it’s really sad that the state of poppy US electronic is such that we’re saying a group as well-established as The Crystal Method has released an album that “isn’t as bad as it could have been” solely because it doesn’t fall under the Epic Mashleg phenomenon and utilizes drum sounds which took more than fifteen minutes to craft. We’re at the point where it’s clear The Crystal Method isn’t going to release another Vegas (nor does it seem as though they particularly want to do that), and there’s the overwhelming sense that whatever success the duo achieved on this effort owes itself to aiming low in the first place. The Crystal Method is unambitious at best and an offense to The Crystal Method’s earlier work at worst, and the duo’s strict adhesion to suffocating radio-electro should end any hope of some half-hearted return to form.



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user ratings (26)
Chart.
2.4
average

Comments:Add a Comment 
Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Jupiter Shift: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncZONwkRQN8

Worth a look if you're into this kind of music but if you've never heard of TCM before PLEASE check Vegas before this



Digging: Nicki Minaj - The Pinkprint

Zettel
January 15th 2014


604 Comments


I might have to agree, this is a pedestrian record. Last record I enjoyed from them was Legion Of Boom. What happened to this band, I do not know.

Eloriaz
January 15th 2014


725 Comments


Yeah... =(

I agree with the summary. This is ridiculous and so disappointing.

Meanwhile, Vegas is still fantastic and classic. Their other albums are solid as well.

Digging: Clarity - Infinite

Acanthus
January 15th 2014


9545 Comments


Would be a 2 for me, just not impressed.

Digging: MO - No Mythologies To Follow

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


10383 Comments


the boring wobbles of the song’s straight-ahead brostep

yeah man you pretty bland

Let me know if you want constructive criticisms! I see a few things you could do to make this review better, though as a whole I really like what you did here

Digging: Thou - Heathen

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Lay it on me mang. I kinda did this piecemeal (wrote descriptions of songs as I listened then cobbled them together) which I probably shouldn't do in the future, but I don't think it turned out horribly haha

Omaha
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


10383 Comments


I've actually done that before- it helps to distinguish the songs for sure, and to show you which descriptive points keep cropping up.

So this review is really good- it paints a picture of these guys, who once did great work with breakbeat but that are adhering to the EDM tropes we've gotten used to by now. You do a good job of conveying that, and much of it has to do with your descriptive vocab here- words like vibrant, plodding, cloying, rotted, stuttered roars (!!) work wonderfully here. I also noticed a few minor points you can look over below.

And while “Over It” is fortunately only one of two misguided half-time segments, the extent of the big-room influence is all too evident.

Writer's choice here, but if I were your editor I'd remove 'fortunately' from the sentence- breaks the flow. And the extent of the influence is all too evident? Is that possible? I get whatcha sayin', but there are better ways to phrase your point.

The first sentence of your second paragraph feels out of place- I'd probably omit it entirely. The sentence after it is a better point to raise at the paragraph's beginning, anyways.

what’s worked in the past takes a backseat to rotting electro-house arpeggios and too much focus on fancy compression.

I'm wondering if a mention of compression really belongs in this review. I know what it is, and some others will understand it, but it may be wisest to use a more basic description for the non-electronic junkies. I also see you mention 'fancy compression' in the next paragraph... Hmmmm

Also, don't like the first sentence of the last paragraph either. Once again, the sentence after it would work perfectly fine without it, and is more insightful.

I may go check out these guys' better days. I've been on a breakbeat kick apparently- been listening to Squarepusher's most popular release, and I love it.

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Sweet, thanks, I'll fix those up then ask for a feature (maybe). Definitely check out Vegas, it was one of the albums (along with Deadmau5's For Lack of A Better Name, Daft Punk's greatest hits, and Scary Monsters and Nice Sprites) that got me into electronic in the first place. The opener to Vegas is seriously amazing

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 15th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

And re: compression - that's the problem with the cobbling style, wrote up the second mention of it while listening through the third or fourth time and then wrote the first mention afterwards (no doubt influenced by my other use of it).

LilLioness
January 15th 2014


2727 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Yeah, this was such a meh listen.

tommygun
January 15th 2014


25413 Comments


dece review album sounds shite

heyadam
January 15th 2014


1722 Comments


sucks seeing such a prominent force like these dudes give into some shitty cliches. nice review though, man.

Digging: DIR EN GREY - Arche

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2014


31628 Comments


as evidenced by the boring wobbles of the song’s straight-ahead brostep.


- as written by brostep

Digging: Theo Parrish - American Intelligence

Dunpeal
January 16th 2014


3801 Comments


"Despite being known as hard and horny raw dong music for sweaty males to “bro out” to, brostep actually tends to pull in a larger female audience that prefers the dancier, more jump-up nature of the “hype bass party music” over the heavier dubstep, even if they have to put up with a mosh pit here and there to experience it."


lol

Digging: Aspherium - The Veil of Serenity

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

there's good brostep and there's bad brostep and "over it" is most certainly bad brostep

Deviant.
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2014


31628 Comments


there's good brostep


Kind of an oxymoron here. Also given the derogatory nature of the term, anything halfway decent would probably be labelled as just dubstep, given that the genre went heavy before it went to the bros

Brostep
Staff Reviewer
January 16th 2014


3543 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=id9ONNORGYE

osmark86
January 16th 2014


4548 Comments


this duo's still going? thought they died out back in the late 90s/early 00s

RadicalEd
January 16th 2014


2847 Comments


Revew reads like a 1.5.

Digging: ODESZA - In Return

Rsetness9
January 16th 2014


681 Comments


I find it hard to try anything with such a boring album cover - the album cover sets my presuppositions.



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