After a self-titled debut album with an array of juxtapositions like dark-yet-catchy and disjointed-yet melodic electronic synths, Crystal Castles has arrived with a sophomore album that flaunts the band’s lo-fi skills but with an added veil of grit, haziness, and further obscurity. This new layer is immediately apparent from the opening track, “Fainting Spells” where a consistent, almost horror film-like rhythm resonates in the background while a cacophony of lo-fi sound clips, messy keyboards, and Alice Glass’s screaming vocals play over it. At first listen, it can give the impression that the listener is not as hip and young as he/she thought, but more like an angry parent protecting his or her ears from an emo teenager’s music. But wait! The second track and single, “Celestica” comes to the rescue and reminds the listener why Crystal Castles is (strangely) so…likeable!
Songs seem to redeem themselves from one track to the next, and even within the tracks themselves--as seen in “Doe Deer” where percussion beats that were once unique to the hip hop genre seem to supervise an ironic harmony between the apparent record scratching and the dance-y hip hop beat.
Parallel to the concept of “white noise” which is recognizable as a soothing and consistent wall of sound, Crystal Castles could well have discovered an aspect of sound that could be called, “black noise.” In a way, it is the musical embodiment of a strobe light. Their second album boasts loud, busy, and dark music that one could get lost in—almost terrifyingly so—but the music simultaneously lends a comfort of consistency and progression. It accommodates chillin' with the homies as well as raging at a rave. Call it a classic teenage attraction to all that is loud and rebellious, but Crystal Castles provides a powerful fortress of sound that their name alludes to from the television series She Ra: Princess of Power: “The fate of the world is safe in Crystal Castles…Crystal Castles, the source of all power.”
P.S: If you dig Crystal Castles’ second album, Crystal Castles (II) then head over to this website to download some remixes and secret tracks (for free!)