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Crystal Castles, ‘Plague’ – Song Review

Universal / Last Gang
Universal/Last Gang

Who else here remembers hearing ‘Alice Practice’ for the first time, back when it was pixel-bombing the pre-Twitter internet? I sure as heck do. Even before Alice Glass finished retching the first lyric (“Scars! Will heal!,” for those keeping score at home), it sounded like a classic — a major missing piece from the blogosphere conversations happening in 2005 and, more importantly, a party track extraordinaire.

Seven years later, that track is — yep! — a classic. It’s outlived the 8-bit dance fad that mercifully left as soon as it appeared. It spurred the emergence of the witch house / darkwave sound that so many malign (but we happen to love, cred be damned.) It also anticipated the success of dubstep and the noise-dance pastiche that’s turned a micro-genre into a skrillion dollar industry.

So now Crystal Castles have gone from cool new innovators to forefathers of an entire genre and cluster of bands. The more cynical cool kids would assume they’ve lost it. But, as usual, the hypothetical cynical cool kids are wrong.

‘Plague,’ ostensibly the new track from Crystal Castles’ upcoming third album, stays spooky with jagged electronic stabs strobing from every direction and drum thumps lifted straight from ’80s R&B radio waves. Glass even ups her vocal ante, laying some minor-chord harmonies into the cut.

So no, not much has changed for the band’s sound in the last few years. So why is it fair to call out other bands for not progressing and still praise this duo for staying faithful to their noise?

Because from ‘Alice Practice’ to ‘Plague,’ Crystal Castles are still potent and fashionable, still conjuring a sinister sexiness that’s always in short supply in indie rock and, as ever, still sounding fresh to death.

Listen to Crystal Castles’ ‘Plague’

8 out of 10 rating

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