You'll have to forgive me this one. I know I'm late. Ian Cohen tossed a 7.8 to Crystal Castles' in his Pitchfork review of their eponymous debut back in March and the blogosphere had been incessantly buzzing about the Toronto duo of Ethan Kath and Alice Glass for well over a year prior. But dance music has never been my forte and besides I'd always suspected there was a hint of hipster hype to Crystal Castles' sudden rise to fame. I'd articulate concrete reasons for this, but I feel the picture above more than suffices. To say nothing of the unfortunate and hopelessly nebulous “blog-house” appellation that music journos coined to describe Crystal Castles, Justice, Simian Mobile Disco and the rest of the video-game inspired electro acts that have levitated to the top of the hype machine Most Blogged charts.
Granted, a significant portion of Crystal Castles, sounds like the mind of an ADD-addled, Atari-addicted 8-year old circa 1984, in those halcyon (or horrific) days before adderall was prescribed to every pre-teen averse to quiet time. “xxzxcuzx me” is as grating as its name, a two-minute conflagration of keyboard farts and hellish screams striving towards “existential horror” but landing closer to timorous caterwauling. As for “Love and Caring,” let's just say that in ten years if they ever come out with one of those special edition deluxe re-packages of this record, I sincerely hope it comes with a bottle of Nuprin. (Ah. Nuprin. Little. Yellow. Better.)
But more often than not Crystal Castles succeed, creating something simultaneously dreamy but danceable, ethereal yet visceral, ideal for you and that weird friend of yours with a Jobu-like shrine to DJ Mehdi and Busy P in his room.* The record's twin highlights “Crimewaves (Crystal Castles VS HEALTH”) and “Vanished” are some of the best songs of the year, not because they strike the main vein of whatever it is that could pass for the sound of our jittery zeitgeist (which they probably do), but because the way in which they sound infinite. They're the kind of tunes ideal for late night driving, the pitch-black sky, the un-broken asphalt and the empty road, conjoining with the tribal thump of the drums and the anachronistic Atari assault at some vague vanishing point in the distance. Just don't stop at the blog-house. **
*Is it safe to say at this point, that everyone in Ed Banger save for Justice sucks. And honestly, even Justice aren't that good.
**Lodging at the Blog House costs $99.99 a night, including a hearty breakfast of Sparks and organic egg whites sprinkled with salt and mustache trimmings.