Boy: Hey Girl, how do you feel about electronic music?
Girl: I love electronic music.
Boy: Hey Girl, how do you feel about punk rock music?
Girl: I love punk rock music.
Boy: How would you like to be in a electronic punk rock band and take over the world and shit?
Girl: Okay-- wait... Can I still feign apathy and wear plaid skirts?
Boy: Yeah, whatever.
Shortly after this imagined conversation took place, the boy (Ethan Kath) and the girl (Alice Glass) shoved an Atari 5200 sound chip into a keyboard and got to work. Crystal Castles was born.
The first thing you should know about Crystal Castles is they don't give a shit. They'll sample the French vocals from beginning of Death From Above 1979's "Dead Womb" for for three minutes and then throw in two seconds of the actual song just for fun. They'll record their singer practicing in an apartment without her knowing, put it up on Myspace and get a record deal. They'll remix HEALTH's "Crimewave" and make it embarrassingly better than the original. And that's all within the first three songs.
The rest of the album is comprised of thumping, explosive dance music. And not just "dance" music. Music you will actually dance to. Sure, it starts with a single foot tapping under your desk. But believe you me, it ends on top of your neighbor's dinner table in your underwear shouting, "NO! LEAVE THIS ON! THIS IS GOOOOD!"
This is a common reaction after hearing the album for the first time. By the third or fourth listen you'll be able to sit still long enough to appreciate the brilliant arrangements, chock full of crunchy percussion and catchy hooks, pounding bass and playful synths. You can almost see Ethan performing live, leaning over a table that appears to be puking wires and colored lights, cooly bobbing his head to the beat while his fingers deftly create a sea of arcade sound effects and choppy beats.
While Ethan is responsible for the synthetic half of Crystal Castles, Alice takes charge of the organic, singing in a sneering, throaty yelp. She is the not-so-secret weapon of the group, featured most prominently on "Alice Practice," "XXZXCUZX Me," and "Courtship Date." Her lyrics range from the unintelligible ("Chips, picking chips off rocky thumbnail") to the vaguely sexual ("You're covered in the lotion / That was inside of me.")
It's true that the album is a little top-heavy. Crystal Castles dump all of their tricks into the first half of the album, saving little new for the last five songs or so. But what do you expect from two people so obviously more interested in creating the next great party than the next great record? Inadvertently, they may have done both.
I've found that I am an angrier person when I am listening to this record. Hearing its grinding electronics and shouts of frustration, I feel the urgent need to pump my fist in the air, shave my hair into a mohawk, and spray paint "BUSH SUCKS" graffiti all over the side of my school. If you have the time and energy for this kind of angst, this is the album for you.
Buy it from Insound
Get it from emusic