Crystal Castles
Amnesty (I)


4.0
excellent

Review

by Mort. CONTRIBUTOR (55 Reviews)
August 19th, 2016 | 212 replies


Release Date: 2016 | Tracklist

Review Summary: Amnesty (I) sees Crystal Castles return with a new vocalist and a renewed sense of energy.

Crystal Castles’ fourth LP Amnesty (I) stands out from the rest of their discography for a couple of reasons. Firstly, it’s their premier full length since the departure of vocalist Alice Glass, with replacement Edith Frances taking up vocal duties for the first time. Secondly, it’s their only full length to not be self-titled, implying that this is a conscious effort to begin anew, a fresh start for a band that was mired with mudslinging after Alice’s departure.

Although really that’s just about where the major differences end, as Amnesty (I) may as well have been called Crystal Castles (IV) for all intents and purposes. Edith, although competent, is eerily similar to Glass in her vocal style, with much of the album featuring the same laid back, drifting vocals that were heavily present on (III). Even when her vocals are imbued with any sort of energy they sound similar to Glass, her pained shouting often smothered with a shimmering wall of terse synth that creates a pretty chaotic and grabbing mix I’ll admit, but is still undeniably reminiscent of earlier songs.

Furthermore, just as (III) focused on oppression (the cover was of a tear gas victim), Amnesty (I) is about human rights violations, with all the physical proceeds going to Amnesty International. How this manifests itself is largely through the music as Edith’s lyrics are just as cryptic and generally ambiguous as Glass’s were. True, some meaning can be gleamed from lyrics such as “glow through the veils”, which according to Edith is about empowerment through woman wearing the burqa as a choice, but for the most part it’s the newly abrasive edge that hints at a darker theme. “Chloroform” for example is a mostly unsettling track that harkens back to (III)’s sickly feel, but its heavily distorted closing barrage is Crystal Castles at their most serious and confrontational. These grating moments are much more common here and call-back to tracks like “XXZXCUZX ME” that were indecipherably noisy, although with a more aggressive than spastic tone.

Not that this similarity is a bad thing, as Crystal Castles seem to have worked out how to meld their previous styles into a cohesive whole rather than just repeat their old work. (III) was an attempt at a darker, brooding sound that often failed to hit home in its supposed seriousness due to how weak and meandering the beats and melodies were. You could tell they were trying but energy was severely lacking. Amnesty (I) on the other hand is permeated with the same tense undercurrent of (III) but brings back a fair bit of the blaring, confrontational synth from their first two efforts. This is a more balanced Crystal Castles, the gloomy, echoed vocals and subdued instrumentation finding a meeting point with balls-to-the-wall synth and pounding drums.

Amnesty (I) is therefore reluctant to ever let your attention wander, often lulling you into a false sense of complacency before erupting into seizure inducing fits. Closer “Their Kindness is a Charade” is a good example of this as traditionally Crystal Castles have always ended their albums on a more relaxed note, letting the album fade out calmly. “Their Kindness is a Charade” breaks this tradition, as it alternates between a dreamlike, angelic atmosphere and a sharp layer of synth and heartbeat percussion that is far from mellow. However, some of Crystal Castles' poppy sensibilities are retained in places, "Char"’s salvo of robotic bleeps and Edith’s chilled out vocals being one such highlight, along with "Ornament" which bristles with warmth and a delightful cut-up vocal sample.

Overall though Amnesty (I) is mostly devoid of warmth. It’s also weirdly industrial in its execution at points, the drums packing more weight and the synth more intense; yet at the same time lacking the robotic feel a lot of industrial has. It might be cold and harsh but it still feels very human. It’s a good example of how Crystal Castles can nail down the darkly serious style they were so obviously attempting on (III) without sacrificing the ecstatic energy they’re known for. It may not be a total curveball in the band’s discography, but it is the most cohesive and focused Crystal Castles have ever sounded which is saying something for such a scatterbrained band.



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user ratings (160)
Chart.
3.2
good


Comments:Add a Comment 
Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


14241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

first review in like 4 months nearly



all criticism welcomed



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnqzIYZR1GA - Char



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=M7zxAI3GW2o - Concrete



https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GfB4BQQcoKM - fleece

Digging: Xiu Xiu - Plays The Music Of Twin Peaks

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


24516 Comments


wow that was quick. nice will read

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


14241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

all ive been doing today is writing this and listening to the album so yeah. must of taken me like 5 hours?

anarchistfish
August 19th 2016


27113 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

nice review pos'd



"“(III)” was an attempt at a darker, brooding sound that often failed to hit home in its supposed seriousness due to how weak and meandering the beats and melodies were. "



it ruled and you gave it 4.5 lol

Digging: La Dispute - Panorama

Sniff
August 19th 2016


5496 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

It reads like they still rely heavily on the microKORG. Good.

Sinternet
August 19th 2016


19115 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

From what ive heard so far i didnt really enjoy this much, i feel like the magic has kinda gone.



But great review anyway.

Digging: Marina - LOVE

SandwichBubble
August 19th 2016


9545 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Really good review.

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


14241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Fish i bumped that down to a 4 earlier when i noticed it was a 4.5, that complaint about it was more just aimed at a few tracks on there although what i said was a general complaint i heard from most people



I love this band so my opinions on that album are weird, i love some tracks off it and hate others. Ive switched my view on that album a few times too, i go from underwhelmed to loving it often

Conmaniac
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


24516 Comments


this review is killer, gonna be tough to beat for the review of the week thing

p4p
August 19th 2016


1959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

aww yeah gonna check this shiz out rn

p4p
August 19th 2016


1959 Comments

Album Rating: 3.5

all the singles are absolute bangers

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


14241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Yeah the singles are bangers

bloc
August 19th 2016


55061 Comments


Yeah these guys produce fun singles. I'll probably check this out

Digging: The Chemical Brothers - No Geography

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 19th 2016


30243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Score is spot on. This is my first CC experience and it's awesome.

Digging: Glen Hansard - This Wild Willing

PappyMason
August 19th 2016


5702 Comments


Nice review dude.

I never listened to their 3rd album, but this has got me curious again

Mort.
Contributing Reviewer
August 19th 2016


14241 Comments

Album Rating: 4.0

Cheers man

jtswope
August 19th 2016


5788 Comments

Album Rating: 2.5

Was pretty let down by this tbh. Frail's cool though. Good review Mort.

trve
August 19th 2016


1431 Comments


i know someone who listens to this band and he's an absolute twat

SowingSeason
Moderator
August 19th 2016


30243 Comments

Album Rating: 3.0

Fleece is killer

PappyMason
August 19th 2016


5702 Comments


i know someone who listens to this band and he's an absolute twat

That's nice, thanks for sharing




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