I hated Crystal Castle’s self-titled début album when it came out in 2008 – to my ears, it just sounded like an amateurish attempt at 8-bit/industrial muzak.
It took a number of listens to numb oneself enough to be able to sit through “Alice Practice” and while it doesn’t quite grate as much as use to, it still irritates somewhat – it’s not a shiver down my spine, rather a creeping claw that I feel.
After a while, it was just boring – the sinking feeling that I had heard bands do this and better.
The arrival of the Canadian duo’s second album – also frustratingly called Crystal Castles – did not initially fill me with glee, but even the most hardened prick (that would be me) could not deny that it is a significant and surprising step forward.
At times still harsh and corrosive, yet embracing subtleties and emotions that their début often shunned, Crystal Castles is far more approachable than Crystal Castles….
Eh…that is to say II is better than I.
The opening single, “Celestica”, is by far one of the best songs on the album. Whereas the Alice Glass of old would most likely commit throaty torture to great through the song, “Celestica” showcases a softer approach to the vocals that almost swim under the veil of death – that the album cover features a little girl standing in a graveyard amidst headstones under darkening evening light is a clue to the rather sombre mood of this album.
Crystal Castles could have easily remade their début and the chances are, they would have sunk because of it, but their second long player truly is a giant step forward.
Unfortunately, there does not appear to a video for “Celestica”, so for now here are Crystal Castles performing the song on Jools Holland last week.