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Crystal Castles - Crystal Castles

Released on Lies Records, 3/18/08

ďDo Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?Ē Does electronica get any better than this? Crystal Castles are a boy and a girl group hailing from Toronto, Canada that canít be contained as they leap over all sorts of borders with their premiere full-length, self-titled album, Crystal Castles.

Crystal Castles sound like a whisk full of electro-punk splattered with Mario Brothersí video game musica and "anti-this, anti-that rhymes". Their moniker was tagged after She-Raís castle, her place of power, from the 80s cartoon, "He-Man, Masters of the Universe".

Crystal Castles has sixteen tracks comprised of previous EP releases and newer compositions. The older releases are distinguishable by their rough and scratchy No. 3 sandpaper-sheets feel as compared to the mild and Slinky-like newer productions. Tightly wound beats with super infused Nintendo game bleeping tones make for a giant nugget of a Hello Kitty like jawbreaker.

Itís a cute feeling and their sound is aggressive and compellingly addictive. Alice Glass has vocals sounding a lot like breaking glass but it is perfectly blended and makes for the artistry in this groundbreaking band with their ultra original sound; you may just want to keep chipping away at it until you get to its center.

While weíre on the topic of artistry, track two is a tune aptly called "Alice Practice" where music programming counterpart, Ethan Kath, just laid down a back drop while Glass was checking her vocal levels in the studio. Crystal Castles didnít intend that to be a song but the fans found otherwise. "Magic Spells" chants a soft-pressured air-hissing rhythm against a faint gaspingly hypnotic melody that spell-binds your body. "Vanished" is reminiscent of an old 80s synth-based sound like Blancmange, Kraftwerk but it only starts there. Itís a sound that the Bay Areaís own The Lovemakers make their building blocks from. But, as said, thatís just scratching the surface.

You will never hear a better mix than the speedy pelts of Gameboy-like blunt chimes petting up against Glassís squelching brash vocals. A more mature tune, "1991", is like the red-hot wax floating in vintage lava lamps, or a deliciously svelte Richard Gere (circa American Gigolo). Its detached sexiness holds you captive; itís a sound that you let seduce you.

Crystal Castles sounds the most serious with the last track, "Tell Me What To Swallow". A lonely mono riff strummed on the guitar, next to Glassís soupy vocals sounds like a taste of Air (think Lost In Translation).

What glosses this album is the smart mix of their old and new sound, plus -- it's intelligent music. The older aggressive songs smack your face with a rubber mallet while the mellower songs take you on a hip, cerebral and robotic trip, with electric tenderness like Royskopp. So if you are into electronica, thereís something for everyone here. Itís electronica heaven with Crystal Castles at the console.

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars.