The Top 50 Albums of Year 2010… #28 CRYSTAL CASTLES “II”
28. CRYSTAL CASTLES “II”
In 2010, Crystal Castles followed up their huge self-titled debut album with a self-titled sophomore which, in turn, has been labelled by critics and fans simply as “II”. The confusion (and similarities) between the two albums ends with their bizarre choice at releasing both their records as Self Titled efforts, and whether you think the ‘self-titled’ tag is one of general laziness (as I do) or not, there’s no denying that “II” is not only a vast improvement on an already winning formula, but also demonstrates a strong-willed sense of growth as one of electronicas most exciting acts in years.
Whilst the Klaxons spawned the ill-placed “Nu Rave” tag, it’s perhaps Crystal Castles who are more deserving of it; the stuff particularly on “II” fits more into the Nu Rave label than anything released over the last two years that’s trying to be Nu Rave (can you dance to Hadouken! without looking like a dickhead? No, no you can’t); it’s effortlessly cool without really redefining what made Rave music in its early beginnings so endearing.
Castles have toned things down to a degree on the follow up. Unlike its predecessor, “II” sees the duo experimenting with the combination of their trademark, glitchy Atari-loving sounds with airy, breezier pop melodies and hooks that make this an easier record to listen through the whole way through. The celestial “Celestica” is a welcome way to kick proceedings off after the freneticly brilliant intro “Fainting Spells”, which seems to be about as chaotic as things get here.
Those who were fans of the loud, upfront and often assaulting sounds from their first record will be pleased with ball-tearers like “Birds” and “Doe Deer”, the latter which is a bit like the Chemical Brothers on DMT. Industrial techno influences bang through on “Year Of Silence” and “Baptism”, but the real beauty lies within the near-Italo-disco-wave of tracks like “Vietnam”, “Pap Smear” and the truly gorgeous Robert Smith collaboration, “Not In Love.”
As far as follow-up albums in the electronic field go, this is one of the most stunning ever made.