Crystal Castles



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I know what the phrase "nose to the grindstone" really means but, for me, it also pretty much describes the aural experience of listening to a Crystal Castles album: a close-up, abrasive, electronic shriek that ricochets off the inside my skull. On their brilliant 2008 debut, tracks such as Alice Practice and xxzxcuzx Me sounded like the mad woman from the attic rampaging through a video arcade where the games machines fight valiantly with each other. There are, however, decent tunes both there and on 2010 follow-up (II), and that's even more true of (III) which is – dare I say it – the Canadian duo's most self-consciously commercial record to date. The arrhythmic heartbeat, fulsome synth riff and call-to-apocalypse vocals of opener Plague set a high standard, and the sound remains big and ravey on new single Wrath Of God and the surprisingly hedonistic Sad Eyes. Ethan Kath's keyboards are often dizzying, Alice Glass's vocals at times almost tender, but the sense of something darker and more disturbing lurking in the electro-pop shadows is never far away.

Alan Morrison