x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 28 July 2017

Crystal Castles III: Fiction

This Canadian duo are notorious for trying to upset their audience, chiefly via an extraordinary live show that involves much screeching through megaphones and sense-scrambling strobe lighting.

Crystal Castles.
Crystal Castles.

Crystal Castles III
Fiction
***

This Canadian duo are notorious for trying to upset their audience, chiefly via an extraordinary live show that involves much screeching through megaphones and sense-scrambling strobe lighting.

At first glance their third album looks set to be an unsettling experience too, given the casualty-of-war cover and gloomy track-listing, which kicks off with the unpromisingly titled Plague. "I feel like the world is a dystopia where victims don't get justice and corruption prevails," the singer Alice Glass has said, and cuts such as the scratchy, staccato Insulin certainly create an oppressive atmosphere. And yet some light does penetrate Crystal Castles, via Glass's partner, Ethan Kath.

His high-tempo production work frequently adds uplifting dance vibes to the dark forces, as if someone had opened a nightclub on the Death Star; the pulsating Sad Eyes, for example, could be the work of an evil empire-approved Pet Shop Boys. Glass's vocals are often buried so deep in the mix that her angst-ridden lyrics are difficult to decipher, and there are several quieter cuts that, whisper it, are quite pleasant. Just don't look at their titles.