The Canadian duo of Alice Glass and Ethan Kath released their third album (III) October this year after beginning recording in Warsaw in March, showing signs of a new approach to experimental electronic music. With analog rather than digitally generated songs, and the introduction of softer sounding synths, we are led to question whether this is the same band that first raised eyebrows in 2006 with their violent and glitchy ‘Alice Practice’ EP. Have they lost their ferocious warped Gameboy sounds and Atari infused shrills, or are we experiencing a new talented side to Crystal Castles that has never been seen before? For me, the duo has proven they can broaden their horizon, and with great success, producing captivating melodic songs with infatuating drum beats such as ‘Mercenary’ ‘Pale Flesh’ and ‘Wrath of God’, but also providing such contrast within the album through songs such as ‘Child I Will Hurt You’; the last listed track, which injects an affectionate and mellow tone, something that clearly counters the customary theme of (III). Despite these drastic changes, there are clear similarities that resonate throughout their career; there still remains the single almost unbearably vicious and asphyxiating track on each album. From ‘Xxzxcuzx Me’, to ‘Doe Deer’, to the recently released ‘Insulin’. It is also clear that the dark and gothic theme that featured in (II) has been made even more prevalent in (III), and it is this thesis that I believe has helped build a unique reputation for the low-res electronic music duo, and why this album shows great capabilities. So its clear that there still exists remnants of the Crystal Castles that we know and love, but with the vocals taking a more minor role, and the lyrics themselves shifting from imperceptible screeching to relaxed singing, (finally proving that Alice Glass does in fact have a talented voice), they have created a more amicable, ordered and skilful album. And this deserves a great deal of credit, and for me the potential to be named the best album of 2012.
Words: Sam Reevey