Each of the first two albums from Toronto’s most raucous electro duo, Crystal Castles, arrived on an avalanche of hype—though it should be noted that the genuine artistry of the latter was far more deserving than the pseudo-subversive zeitgeist of the former. After all, (II) showcased a remarkable evolution from the band’s beat-driven song shards and lo-fi blasts of gleeful noise into something much more refined, yet still entirely primal.
That the band has once again transformed their sound isn’t exactly remarkable, but it is surprising how much of their crackling intensity has been smoothed into a bland sonic sheen. Producer Ethan Kath’s affection for glossy synths makes for an effective counterpoint to singer Alice Glass’s oft-distorted squeal, especially on opener “Plague,” and Kath occasionally capitalizes on his own knack for creepy-hooky melodies (“Telepath”).
Otherwise, at its best, (III) comes across like slightly edgier remixes of Florence and the Machine tunes, or, at its worst, resembles any other electro outfit. Mostly, though, it’s disconcerting to realize that a band that was once so of-the-moment has let its cutting edge get dull.
Playlist picks “Telepath,” “Plague”