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Crystal Castles: Crystal Castles

Artist: Crystal Castles

Title: Crystal Castles II
Release date: May 25
Label: Fiction

Exactly 36 seconds into the new record by Crystal Castles, I said to myself, "This is way fucking better than Sleigh Bells."

I'm sure many of you are saying, "Quit being an asshole about Sleigh Bells; why do you feel you have to compare Crystal Castles and Sleigh Bells? They don't even sound that much alike." (At this point, please allow to me interject regarding a comment on my Sleigh Bells post, written by one Joseph Guisti. Please read it. That's how you write a truly great comment. The guy's a good, thoughtful writer, and I enjoyed his comment so much that I went back and listened to the Sleigh Bells record again.)

Granted, they don't sound a lot alike, but they do have a lot in common -- both are electro-based, both are boy-girl duos, both are super-hyped by tastemaking critics, both have records released within one week of each other, both became popular without even really having a body of work by which to judge them.

So, yeah, in a taste test, I'm taking Crystal Castles. More original, more clever, less ephemeral. Anyone who reads this blog post regularly knows I've hinted that electronic music acts tend to sound a lot alike. Crystal Castles sounds like no other electronic act I've heard this year. Eminently danceable but aggressively rock-oriented -- even industrial -- in parts, this record seems unconcerned with the genre's confines.

I gleaned very little from the female singer's vocals, which, even when not distorted beyond recognition, are used more as another instrument than the conveyor of words, ideas, and messages. 

No, the best thing about Crystal Castles is their ability to pair the ugly and abrasive with the pretty and smooth. This juxtaposition is all over this records: sexy and lush synth backdrops with strokes of distortion and grimy videogame noises splattered on them. It's not something I'm going to listen to a lot, but Crystal Castles have made a fairly compelling record.
Best song: "Year of Silence," which vaguely reminds me of New Order and Siouxsie and the Banshees
Rotation: Low-medium
Deja vu: Disorientation.
I'd rather listen to: Any other electronic record I've heard in 2010.
Grade: B-

"Nothing Not New" is a yearlong project in which New Times editorial operations manager Jay Bennett, a 41-year-old music fan and musician, will listen only to music released in 2010. Each Monday through Friday, he will listen to one new record (no best ofs, reissues, or concert recordings) and write about it. Why? Because in the words of his editor, Martin Cizmar, he suffers from "aesthetic atrophy," a wasting away of one's ability to embrace new and different music as one ages. Read more about this all-too-common ailment here.

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