Proving Shoegaze Can Be Appreciated By All: Crystal Castles’ III

by Charissa Lock

Ethan Kath and Alice Glass have brought you listening pleasure through the addition of one articulately placed beat at a time.   Crystal Castles had previously been categorized in a very distinct genre of, you either love it or hate it due to all the ‘electronic noise.’  This harsh sentence seems to have followed them through their sophomore album II, though more songs are more melodic than others.  However, their latest album can have comparisons be made that are of the more delicate and organized movement, such as the mainstreaming M83 and insatiable Sleigh Bells.  With such favorable comparison, Crystal Castles has truly made their way into the act of composing beautiful pieces that can be enjoyed by the masses.

Their Atari Pong sounds seem to have crossed into a Final Fantasy atmosphere where an ascending rebirth takes on a lighter and more mystical outcome.  Alice’s dark and whispery vocals sneak up behind the listener, sharing secret promises (“I’ll protect you from all the things I’ve seen,” “Kerosene”) while balanced beats keep you intrigued and content.    As the album wisps you along, you find yourself moving to the melody, expecting, yet being surprised by the beats.  Appreciating how magnificent it all flows together.

Starting off with beats that could easily pass for a Drake track, “Affection” then delivers about four unexpected transitions that have you beaming with each movement.   If by the fourth track III hasn’t gotten your attention, it just did.  “Pale Flesh” comes barreling through; with distorted and faded falsetto vocals that are reminiscent of past albums.  Yet, this wonderful moment happens when Glass progresses into a melody similar to Sleigh Bells “End of The Line,” and you feel comforted in a sturdy foundation.  Catapulting you onwards, “Sad Eyes,” seems that it may continue Glass’ screamo tendencies, but rather she keeps things soft and beautiful.   There are tracks, much like, “Violent Youth,” which constructs an uplifting, cascading atmosphere, one that would make any menial task more fun doing just by listening.  While others are more on the bombastic side like second to last track, “Mercenary.”  Having this heavy, distorted feel which leads properly to the next, and final, song “Child I Will Hurt You,” which has the thickest aura of M83 consequently making it so ambient that not closing your eyes to listen seems sinful.

Crystal Castles delivers you through an extended portal from II, this time sending you to a delicately dreamier world through Glass’ quiet vocals.  Implementing what they are significantly talented at and molding their success into a lighter shoegaze sound, this latest album is brilliant.  Each listen connects with you in a different way, showing the depth that is involved in each track.  Crystal Castles are evolving, retaining, but still evolving, with III focusing your attention on every melody, beat, and vocal change.

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Tags:IX, midnight city,  Real life crystal castles, Crimewave, electro booty pop, The xx