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Crystal Castles

Hotly tipped Canadian electro duo Crystal Castles deliver the goods on their debut album.

Rating: 8 / 10

Paul Nolan, 21 Apr 2008

At this point, it’s almost a novelty to come across a new Canadian act who aren’t an indie band, but Toronto-based duo Alice Glass and Ethan Kath forgo guitars for a distinctive brand of electro. They certainly come with an impressive pedigree, having already remixed tracks by first-class bands such as Klaxons, Bloc Party and Liars. Indeed, one of the finest tunes on Crystal Castles’ self-titled debut, ‘Crimewave’, is a remix of a track by Los Angeles noise-rock outfit HEALTH.

However, Crystal Castles clearly know how to rustle up a killer groove in their own right, as evidenced by the likes of ‘Air War’, ‘1991’ and ‘Vanished’, all of which are brilliantly crafted tracks guaranteed to get any dancefloor moving.

Elsewhere, tunes such as ‘Alice Practice’ and ‘Xxzxcuzx Me’ layer Glass’ yelps and vintage Atari noises over thumping beats, resulting in a sound that has been categorised in some quarters as “8 bit”, although a more accurate description might be “headfuck” (or “headphuk” as it would no doubt be dubbed were it to become an official genre).

If your idea of fun is Selfish Cunt playing over Donkey Kong samples, then welcome to paradise city, but I found these to be the album’s least inspired tracks. Thankfully, Crystal Castles balance out the noisier moments with some mellow gold, including the gorgeous ‘Magic Spells’ and the Cocteau Twins-style final track, ‘Tell Me What To Swallow’.

It may have the odd moment of self-indulgence, but overall this is a hugely impressive debut.

Key track: ‘Crimewave’

Rating: 8 / 10
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