Bordering lo-fi noise rock and punch-drunk electro-punk, Crystal Castles’ eponymous debut is a slap-happy merry-go-round of inimitable blips and bleeps. Producer/multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath’s Atari 5200 sound chip-modified keyboard easily slates the Toronto duo atop the ever-growing electronic circuit. The pair’s choppy, seizure-inducing beats boast more talent and creativity than much of today’s wave of dance/electronic acts, more by way of Kath’s ultramodern programming than singer Alice Glass’ limited vocal range. Kath’s dizzying, video game-mimicking chords better serve as a filter, drowning out Glass’ riot grrrl screams with multilayered synths and drum machines. Most obviously on “Through the Hosiery,” Glass’ voice is nothing more than an echoing whisper purposely, and thankfully, buried by waves of hipster-electro gold. Masking Glass’ developing vocals doesn’t hurt Crystal Castles’ sound, but instead enhances the genuineness behind the robot-sounding band. The artificiality behind her studio-enhanced vocal chops matches perfectly with Kath’s nostalgic Nintendo tunes.
The more popular “Crimewave,” “Alice Practice,” and “Courtship Dating” lead the album, but the clearer “Vanished” and “Good Time” are equally impressive, deserving as much attention as any other track. Crystal Castles will fall victim to criticisms of uncreative filler and recycled noise, most likely meant for songs such as “Love and Caring,” but even the buzz of similar tracks is saved by crashing breakdowns and hypnotizing intros. Standing at polar ends of Crystal Castles‘ overall sound, “Xxzxcuzx Me” best exemplifies Crystal Castles’ nonsensical, anarchist revolution, while acoustic ballad “Tell Me What to Swallow” seems almost confused and lost within the album’s linear sonic patternâ€šÃ„Ã®still, it further demonstrates the duo’s ability to stand apart from the cookie-cutter crap crowding the electro realm.