Crystal Castles, which get their name from an old She-Ra (of Masters of the Universe fame) toy commercial that boasted "Crystal Castle, the source of all power.", are a Canadian duo consisting of Ethan Kath and vocalist Alice Glass.When the duo formed, it was almost by accident. Their first single "Alice Practice" was actually Alice practicing, she didn't know she was being taped. Once they had a few people listen to the track they knew they had something good and the idea of making Crystal Castles into something became a reality.
Crystal Castles are members of the 8bit fan club and use some interesting instrumentation when creating their sounds, such as placing an Atari 5200 sound chip inside a keyboard. This has been known to produce a sound that has been described as having "ferocious, asphyxiating sheets of warped two-dimensional Gameboy glitches and bruising drum bombast pierce [the] skull with sheer shrill force, burrowing deep into the brain like a fever". The album does truly sound as if you are playing Galaga or Contra on the original Nintendo circa 1985. Fans of 8bit Pop-Synth-Punk will be happy with this release but others will notice that Crystal Castles suffer slightly from the same sickness fellow Synth-Poppers 'The Teenagers' have, which is that too many of the songs sound the same. Let's go through the Pop-Synth-Punk list...Distorted screams (check!)...Sythn bleeps and blips (check!)...monotonous drums throughout (check!)...chopped up vocals(check!)...not much else (check!).
The album is not a complete loss though. There are some gems such as (my two favorite tracks) the dreamy 'Vanished' and the shoegazey 'Tell Me What To Swallow', the latter even uses an acoustic guitar (wild!). Many of the synth-tastic tunes like 'Untrust Us', 'Courtship Dating','Reckless' and 'Black Panther' have great bleeps and blips and even begin to elude to something more underneath, but in the end the album as a whole fails to deliver. I personally like all the 'Crystal Castles' remixes that have been making the blog rounds as of late, but I was really hoping for more from the duos first complete album outing.
6 out of 10