Crystal Castles

Crystal Castles
(Last Gang) 

The acclaim that so often rains down on (insert overrated dance act's name here) may soon stumble its bandanna-clad way toward Toronto duo Crystal Castles. While their self-titled debut full-length on Last Gang packs a strain of considerably punky tension under its arcade bleeps and beat programming, the more subtle (though still dance floor-ready) structure that the duo occasionally approaches frames the album's strongest entries. A current of deceptively pristine house music on Crystal Castles' effort more often rears its head than lukewarm and predictable dance rock does. "Untrust Us" opens on the former note, built on an almost inconceivably simple, absolutely stunning melody and an indecipherable vocal line that's pitched up and down at random. The glitchy "Alice Practice" bounces along on vocalist Alice Glass' looped verse, and is again peppered thoroughly with vintage video game samples (the outfit shares its name with an '80s Atari favorite, but references a He-Man character). The brightest lot, which includes "Vanished," "Good Time," and a rush of delayed vocals, buzzing trance synths, and double-time tempo called "Black Panther," finds Crystal Castles at its innovative peak, and swapping formulaic, "of-the-moment" dance rock  for 64-bit loveliness.
 
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