I have been waffling about this album since pretty much the instant I hit "play". Don't get me wrong - there's no question that I don't like it, but I can't tell if I don't like it because it's legitimately BAD, or if instead it's GOOD but I happen to have the musical taste level of an infant monkey whose mother never played it Mozart in the womb (incidentally, I just Googled "what do baby monkeys like" and got NOT ONE useful hit in return, although I did unearth this ABC story about people adopting monkeys instead of children. perhaps baby monkeys like hand-crocheted onesies? it's less clear whether they like having their teeth and fingers removed, although that is the fate of many adopted monkeys [?!?!?!]...). Where was I again? Oh yes, Crystal Castles.
So Crystal Castles is an electropop duo formed in Toronto in 2004 (per Wikipedia), a collection of facts that sent me IMMEDIATELY to Chromeo's Wikipedia page, as they are my favorite Canadian electropop duo of all time (seriously, though, how many can there be?). As an even crazier coincidence, it turns out Chromeo was also formed in 2004, although they hatched one province over, in Montreal. From the standpoint of karmic-balance, this makes perfect sense: while Chromeo represents the light(-hearted) side of the force, Crystal Castles exemplifies the dark. Don't believe me? Then please, by all means, check out this interview with Crystal Castles singer Alice Glass on Bullett, where she talks about the Crystal Castles song in which a mother drowns her children "like cats" or this piece on NME that quotes her as saying "the mainstream hates women" as well as the following musing on the over-sexualization of children: "Like fucking Katy Perry spraying people with her fucking dick, her fucking cum gun coming on fucking children". To be clear, I'm not saying that Crystal Castles is necessarily an entity devoted to the dark side, but they are certainly doing their best to hold up a mirror.
And that, in short, is what the album sounds like. Dark, choppy synths clash with Glass's dark, choppy vocals on these twelve tracks (title highlights include "Plague" and "Child I Will Hurt You"), often in such a clipped and underworldly style that the lyrics are completely obscured. Dance beats surface and then burrow back into the ambient beeps and boops with a chaotic unpredictability, and often at an uncomfortable-to-listen-to frequencies. And, while I kinda get the point of making ugly music (as a reflection of the ugliness in the world around us, or perhaps as the basest rejection of it???), I also totally don't get the point of making ugly music. If the world sucks and Katy Perry is a dumb bimbo shooting frosting out her boobs like a suggestive tramp-monster, why not make the world a better and more beautiful place, or fashion yourself as a positive, empowered female role model for children? Oh right, 'cause the other option, singing songs about killing kids, is clearly better.
P.S. In a totally unrelated appeal - please, let's none of us adopt a monkey.