After seeing Tame Impala perform on Jools Holland I was intrigued to give their music a listen. Lonerism is their second album and it came out at the beginning of October so I thought I’d give it a listen to start things off. They’re recorded sound is quite different from what I heard on Jools Holland, but definitely different in a good way.
Lonerism is like nothing else before it, apart from perhaps Innerspeaker the groups first record. Lonerism blends psychadelics with indie beats, classic rock guitar solos and a constant ambience. The album kicks off with ‘Be Above It’ setting the scene for an unusual album the song constantly has backing vocals creating the basis of the track then instruments and lead vocals are added on top creating a sound similar to something you’ve heard before but with something unique. This track sounds, to me, a lot like Broken Social Scene.
Everything we learnt from the first track is pretty much dashed with it’s follow-up, ‘Endors Toi’ which is perhaps a better indicator for the sound of the rest of the album. It is very ambient, with high-pitched melodic vocals that get lost within the other instruments and moments where certain instruments just burst out above all the rest. Guitar solos that sound like they wouldn’t be out of place on a Pink Floyd album and drum fills that don’t sound dissimilar from something you might have heard by Led Zeppelin.
It’s this old fashioned sound that really gives the band their identity, mixing classic rock and progressive sounds with an indie sensibility ultimately bringing the genre right up to date and giving us one of the greatest albums of the year.
If you’re a follower of the blog you’ll have probably picked up on my anticipation for this record. Electronic duo Alice Glass and Ethan Kath know how to create original and interesting music and Crystal Castles have somehow managed to make their way into my group of absolute favourite artists. Their first two albums offer a dark, sometimes haunting picture littered with dance beats and disco sounds. III is no different, but that’s not to say it doesn’t have it’s own unique charm. It is their first album to be solely produced by Kath himself. The result is something which I think is more personal than their two previous works and at the same time more universal.
The first thing that struck me about III was that it sounds a lot more calm than their previous two albums. The tracks that came out before the album reflect this slightly more ambient feel. It shows an advancement in their musicianship the way they manage to incorporate the ambience while keeping the elements of their other work that was so effective. ‘Affection’ for example is a much softer song than almost anything you’d find on I or II but at the same time its echoing synth’s are just anthemic as anything the Castles have ever done, if not more so. On top of this there’s still this air of mystery and discovery as they experiment with new sounds, ‘Insulin’ is sounds like it’s been crafted by something completely new and different.
The band have also continued the way in which they manage to portray such complex emotions with music, particularly when the lyrics are actually inaudible. ‘Pale Flesh’ provokes in me a sense of being trapped in this electronic cell and takes me back to my days of adolescence where all I wanted to do was break out. This is all deliberate and it really speaks to their artistry that they are able to portray such angst and emotion with a genre that is usually known for being shallow.
III as a record is also much easier to listen to than their previous albums. It gives a more relaxed atmosphere even when it’s meanings are something much darker. With Kath producing I think it offers a much more organic sound, similar to that of Brian Eno, and they manage to envoke a similar atmosphere to some of his records while still holding on to their cutting edge, visceral emotions.
As II did I, III shows Crystal Castles making another giant leap into experimentation and come out the other side having discovered a new way to cut through your exterior and write electronic music with a human heart. This album not only improves upon the bands past achievements it surpasses that of any electronic group there has ever been. Crystal Castles are amazing