Welding shimmering melodies to joyous nihilism, the Brooklyn noise-poppers’ second shines, darkly
Load [b]‘In Love With Oblivion’[/b] into iTunes and it labels it as post-punk. But, though there’s certainly a reverb-drenched darkness to [a]Crystal Stilts[/a]’ second effort, the offerings here are just as much post-garage, post-Velvets or post-Spector as they are indebted to the dark wanderings of the late ’70s. Where 2008 debut [b]‘Alight Of Night’[/b] swooned in on a wave of surf-tinged guitars and a simple, rhythmic swagger, [b]‘ILWO’[/b] capitalises on the band’s melodic talents and embraces them tenfold.
It’s not so much a departure as just, well, better. For every one of Brad Hargett’s nonchalantly droning vocals, there’s a melody that shimmers and sparkles with all the pop nous of any ’60s great; [a]Crystal Stilts[/a], like [a]The Cure[/a] or [a]The Jesus And Mary Chain[/a] before them, understand that the beauty is in the balance.
Lead single and highlight [b]‘Shake The Shackles’[/b] epitomises this with gorgeous ease. Its opening gambit may read like an excerpt from [a]Elliott Smith[/a]’s most tortured diary (“[i]When will we discover the place that we buried love/And resurrect all of the lovers?/We cried so long for one another[/i]”), but the fuzzy layers of infectious riffs, organs and tambourine shakes gloom clear with a hopeful, dappled-sunlight brilliance. [b]‘Through The Floor’[/b] stomps along like Bowie hitting the West Coast, while [b]‘Half A Moon’[/b] is all Hammond organs and acid-soaked exuberance, and [b]‘Death Is What We Live For’[/b] is part Iggy, part Lou, part Brian Jonestown and all genius.
[b]‘In Love With Oblivion’[/b] dips its toe in cross-continental waters from Warhol’s Factory to Manchester’s, but from start to finish [a]Crystal Stilts[/a] have produced something that’s defiantly, distinctively ruled only by itself. Take out the vocals on [b]‘Silver Sun’[/b] or [b]‘Invisible City’[/b] and the last 40 years might as well not have happened; add them back in, however, and you’ve got the kind of glorious contradiction that’s post-nothing.