I really am not what you’d call ‘cool’. Not just false modesty: really, really not. I like cooking risotto and getting slightly too involved in TV shows. I’m so incapable of navigating Hoxton that despite having worked there, every single time I go I get lost.
Crystal Stilts, meanwhile, appear to be All About The Cool. They’re from Brooklyn, the official home of cool. They describe themselves as ‘noise pop’. A cursory look on The Internets suggests they have Haircuts. I don’t have a Haircut. I have no clue what the term ‘noise pop’ is supposed to mean. I spent one afternoon in Brooklyn and for most of it I hid in a café stuffing my face with pancakes. I’m not entirely convinced I’m their target audience, but I’ll give it a go anyway.
In Love With Oblivion is the follow-up to the well-reviewed, well-received and generally well-loved Alight of Night. So you might say expectations are high. ‘Sycamore Tree’ starts proceedings by nicking that 'Don’t run up the stairs you silly moo!' suspenseful sound cue from every Eighties horror movie going, before kicking into high gear with guitars straight out of a spaghetti Western, pounding drums and Brad Hargett’s droning vocals clouded in more reverb than you’d get shouting down an empty tunnel at night. At least, I imagine so: I’m not advocating pissing off your neighbours by finding your nearest tunnel and howling into it to do a compare and contrast job. I accept no responsibility if you choose to do so anyway.
Although the reverb works in the context of the songs, the English Lit student in me would really love to actually hear the lyrics; all too often they’re obscured to the point of inaudible. Effects are fine and everything, but when they overtake whatever it is they’re supposed to enhance, it’s time to switch off ProTools.
Considering that I’m an old woman and have just spent a good chunk of my word count whinging that I can’t hear what Hargett’s singing about, it’s a good job that the record thrives on creating raw feeling purely out of the combination of sounds. Both ‘Half A Moon’ and ‘Shake The Shackles’ are driven by lunatic riffs designed to possess you, poltergeist-style, and force you to do that kind of dancing where you throw your head around until it falls off. Your head would literally detatch itself if you did that dance to either of these songs - and you will. You won’t be able to control it, so just accept the inevitable self-inflicted losing of the head now and enjoy the ride.
‘Blood Barons’, all bass-driven swagger, is the kind of song A-Ha Shake Heartbreak-era Kings of Leon would have killed to make. ‘Silver Sun’ is a shimmery, car-top-down anthem perfect for summer lazing about. ‘Precarious Stair’, meanwhile, is the kind of song you can imagine being sung by the house band at a line dance, while the locals look on, confused, bewildered and not a little bit scared of change. The whole album has that feel: classic Americana country rock filtered through math-pop and woozy effects. It’s laid-back. It doesn’t care what you – or I - think of it. It is, in the truest sense of the word, a cool album.
Ah, yes, that word again. For all its clever-clever effects and pose-throwing, In Love With Oblivion is a big fun record meant to be blasted through the loudest speakers possible. Sod trying to be cool, stick this on and dance around your bedroom until your scare your pet dog with your head rolling down the stairs.
I just wish I could understand the bloody lyrics.
7Krystina Nellis's Score