Under Review: Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion

There was a whole lot of space on Alight Of Night, the debut album from Brooklyn’s Crystal Stilts. Sure, the band reveled in the gloomy post-punk made popular by Joy Division and reprehensible by every imitator since, but there was something about them that made them particularly notable. Those differences have inched to the forefront of the band’s sound in the three years and on the handful of 7” singles since their debut. Crystal Stilts’ new album, In Love With Oblivion, shows a wider variety of menacing influences, from the one-string stomp of The Cramps on opener “Sycamore Tree” to the spacey squall of Silver Apples on the sprawling “Alien Rivers.”  There’s also a much stronger focus on hooks and melodies on Oblivion, something which lesser bands of the reverb-pop cloth too often forget about. They might strike an ominous, detached stance, but Crystal Stilts show off an optimistic lightness on In Love With Oblivion that’s a welcome change and testament to their skills.

While chamber echo-laden drums pound away, guitars and keyboard clang and jangle throughout Oblivion. “Silver Sun” is as summery a track as a band like Crystal Stilts is physically capable of producing, and the phenomenal “Shake The Shackles” is one of the group’s finest songs to date. It’s a collision of rushing rhythms, pre-chorus breakdowns and a mammoth chorus; a song that’s sure to become a signature tune. Sharing a landscape (and label) with countless like-minded retro popsters, Crystal Stilts have found themselves in a lucky position: releasing a great record that doesn’t feel pressured by any external forces. Crystal Stilts’ music hardly exists in a vacuum, but their aloof regard for their overcrowded scene is refreshing and lets the new songs get by on their own plentiful merits.

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~ by E. on April 15, 2011.

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