Album Review: Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion (Fortuna Pop!)

Welding shimmering melodies to joyous nihilism, the Brooklyn noise-poppers’ second shines, darkly

Album Review: Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion (Fortuna Pop!)

8 / 10 Load ‘In Love With Oblivion’ into iTunes and it labels it as post-punk. But, though there’s certainly a reverb-drenched darkness to Crystal Stilts’ 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 ‘Alight Of Night’ swooned in on a wave of surf-tinged guitars and a simple, rhythmic swagger, ‘ILWO’ 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; Crystal Stilts, like The Cure or The Jesus And Mary Chain before them, understand that the beauty is in the balance.

Lead single and highlight ‘Shake The Shackles’ epitomises this with gorgeous ease. Its opening gambit may read like an excerpt from Elliott Smith’s most tortured diary (“When will we discover the place that we buried love/And resurrect all of the lovers?/We cried so long for one another”), but the fuzzy layers of infectious riffs, organs and tambourine shakes gloom clear with a hopeful, dappled-sunlight brilliance. ‘Through The Floor’ stomps along like Bowie hitting the West Coast, while ‘Half A Moon’ is all Hammond organs and acid-soaked exuberance, and ‘Death Is What We Live For’ is part Iggy, part Lou, part Brian Jonestown and all genius.

‘In Love With Oblivion’ dips its toe in cross-continental waters from Warhol’s Factory to Manchester’s, but from start to finish Crystal Stilts have produced something that’s defiantly, distinctively ruled only by itself. Take out the vocals on ‘Silver Sun’ or ‘Invisible City’ 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.

Lisa Wright


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