Everyone Should Be Talking About Crystal Castles

Last night, in Charlotte North Carolina, Crystal Castles began their national tour to promote their soon to be released third album. in Commenting on the upcoming release of their LP “III”, Crystal Castles producer Ethan Kath told NME, “There’s no departure…We like how we sound. We don’t wanna change.” Indeed, upon listening to the first 2 singles off the new album, “Plague” and “Wrath of God”,  it does seem that many of the characteristics that have defined the Canadian duo’s sound, especially on their second album “II”, have carried over. The haunting, ambient synths still sound like they’re echoing off the walls of a gothic cathedral. The tracks are still undergirded by a glitchy, lo-fi house beat. The music still possesses that unmistakable quality of being beautifully haunting, and yet surprisingly dance-friendly. And lead singer Alice Glass’s muffled lyrics are still incomprehensible. Yet, despite the consistencies, their is a strange new ineffable quality that was absent on Crystal Castles previous releases. The only way I can think to describe it is that their sound seems to reflect more the goth rock sounds that the group for so long have claimed as their primary influence. Replace the lofting synths with a reverb’d guitar and the drumkit with a drumset, and I think the new album might sound strikingly similar to the Cure, Echo and the Bunnymen, or Siouxie and the Banshees. To be fair, it is hard to judge the nature of the new album based solely on the first two singles, but their does seem to be a degree of variation that might call into question Kath’s comments to NME. So how seriously should we take Kath’s claim that their sound hasn’t changed. Apparently not very much. According to Pitchfork, Kath has stated “We wanted the new album to sound like a completely different and new experience…Any keyboards and pedals used on I or II were traded for different keyboards and pedals so that there would be a new palette of sounds to work with. We wouldn’t allow any computers near the studio, everything had to be recorded to tape. We’d limit ourselves to one take because we believe the first take is the rawest expression of an idea.” And so, as I wait in anticipation of the release of “III”, currently set for early November, I am left with no idea what to expect from Crystal Castles. However, given that I plan to see them in Columbus on October 10th, I welcome and embrace the uncertainty.