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Let's call it electro-stentialism, or nouveu nihilism - that brand of desolate dance music that eschews pure hedonism in favour of a bleak wail into the abyss. Black Lips, Hearts Revolution; all that screechy 8-bit electro blah. Cynics might align Crystal Castles with this dark-hued, hipster scene. In truth, Crystal Castles have nothing to do with fashion. Their power lies in their ability to conjure visceral emotion from seemingly inhuman noise - namely Ethan Kath's digital distortions writhing under Alice Glass's agonised vocals.
Yes they're bleak, but this runs far beyond an ambition to be achingly 'now'. Crystal Castles, for all their associations with the Klaxons and Skins, transcend zeitgeist. To listen to this debut album is to be cast adrift in a vortex of deafening pain without a safety net. The sound they create on tracks like 'Vanished' - as lyrics skip by in a elliptical burble of indistinct enunciations - encapsulate the feeling of being young and alive in 2008. The doubt, the fear, the itchy self-destruct trigger finger; the feeling you could do anything in the world, but that nothing would ultimately mean anything. Crystal Castles simultaneously reject and embody Generation Empty Gesture and fire out a cacophony of existential impotence.
While their music may sound robotically callous, make no mistake about it - this electro escape hatch sends you into a turbulent atmosphere of profoundly human emotion. Mostly gnawing emptiness. A blast of famed studio experiment, Alice Practice, or the resolutely unintelligible Xxzxzcuzx Me prove that Crystal Castles are honouring nothing meaningful. It's a stark here and now, and you can forget that fuzzy embrace of musical heritage too. As instrumental splurge, 1991, demonstrates; this is the soundtrack for 20-something chaos seekers who grew up playing Ataris rather than listening to Kraftwerk.
Weilding sonic light and shade, tracks like Magic Spells downshift to mellow, ambient meloncholy. It's a loaded, chilled epic clocking in at 6 minutes, barely able to power its way through a lethargic dose of comedown hugs. With such sublime depth on offer, Crystal Castles marks a nuanced emotional territory that dance music never covered before. --Sophie Hammer
Find more music at the BBC This link will take you off Amazon in a new window--This text refers to the Audio CD edition.
Great album, love every song, very good price and it came one day earlier than i expected, a must buy.Published on 18 May 2013 by Jake Walker
The Castles are great and this is a good place to get to know them. However, iii is much superior.Published on 24 Dec. 2012 by Barry Cross
I bought this after falling in love with courtship dating and becoming completely captivated by the wonderful alice glass and it did not disappoint. Read morePublished on 22 July 2011 by Julia Havard
Came across a few tracks on Youtube recently, and loved them so much I bought 2 albums :)Published on 19 Aug. 2010 by Amazon Customer
Saw them on Jools Holland one evening and quite liked - however this album is rubbish.Published on 4 Aug. 2010 by R. Hoodless
Just thought I'd note that the blurb says they're named after the She-Ra cartoon? I'd have thought the 80's videogame "Crystal Castles" would have been a more likely source, given... Read morePublished on 29 April 2010 by E. Brandon
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