Crystal Castles – (III)
With Crystal Castles singer Alice Glass describing the duo’s third album as the ‘soundtrack to a dystopic world full of oppression and corruption’; and the album tracklist boasting song titles like ’Plague’, ’Wrath Of God’, ’Kerosene’ and ’Violent Youth’, you can understand why fans of the Canadian electro-goth pioneers are so excited about the dark, bleak and brooding bleepage that lurks within (III).
After perfecting the atmospheric 8-bit synth sound with albums (I) and (II), Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have upped the ante with (III), choosing a more epic and expansive production style to express the mass dissatisfaction with this ‘dystopian’ world. In doing so they’ve made their best album yet – although probably not for the reasons you might think.
(III) has its fair share of the angry, confrontational and tense songs that Crystal Castles are now synonymous with – most notably the brilliantly energetic ’Plague’, the brooding ’Wrath Of God’ and the epic ’Sad Eyes’ – but it’s the slower, more soulful tracks that really add depth to the album.
Alice is on brilliant vocal form on the sorrowful ’Affection’ and the hymnal ’Transgender’ – helping to bring a personal edge to the universal themes of misery and anger. The best of the lot is the disarming album closer ’Child I Will Hurt You’, which features a low bass rumble and lullaby vocals hanging off a delicate and hypnotic chiming riff.
With this being a Crystal Castles album, there’s plenty of experimentation and variety to keep things interesting. Some of this works, particularly the restless electro of ’Kerosene’ and the bass-heavy ‘EDM’ on ’Pale Flesh’. Some of the tracks on ’(III)’ don’t quite hit the mark though, particularly the awkwardly heavy ’Insulin’ – but it’s still refreshing to hear a band experiment with their sound and push their own creative boundaries on an album that’s clearly intended to grow their fanbase.