Zachary Cole Smith has overcome a multitude of problems to make this intensely powerful album
Album Review: Crystal Stilts - In Love With Oblivion (Fortuna Pop!)
Welding shimmering melodies to joyous nihilism, the Brooklyn noise-poppers’ second shines, darkly
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.
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