Crystal Castles: redundant but confident
Alice Glass of Crystal Castles, photos by Cindy Lopez (scroll down for more)
My original plan here was to provide insight into the new songs I presumed the duo would be introducing at Sunday’s show at Metropolis. Alas, besides the two singles from their upcoming third record that are already circulating online — “Wrath of God” and “Plague” — Crystal Castles delivered largely the same set as they did on their last few visits, albeit with a more elaborate set-up of seizure-inducing strobe lights and a new purple do for lead singer Alice Glass.
It was an entertaining lights-and-loudness combo, and at 70 minutes, the set was quite robust by their standards, but the recalcitrant duo have already played these songs in Montreal a fair number of times. We’ve seen Glass swig from her never-emptying bottle of JD, and minor alterations to existing hits — like mashing up “Crimewave” with Finnish producer Huoratron’s “Cryptocracy” — were awkward and hardly indicative of where the astonishingly popular group are headed artistically into album number three.
Despite this, the two new songs have clearly whetted the appetites of their youthful fanbase. Their older songs can often be too easily characterized as aggressive or less-aggressive, but “Wrath of God” and “Plague” are genuine compositions, with build-ups, ebbs, flows and a bleak aesthetic far beyond whatever constituted darkness in their past. Another nod to the new record was the on-stage backdrop — the album cover, a picture of a veiled mother holding her tear-gassed son.
Otherwise, the show could be easily telegraphed by anyone who’s seen them in recent years. “Baptism,” set the stage early, “Not in Love” was tender as far as barrages of electro-squelches go, and “Courtship Dating” ensured everyone stuck around for the second encore.
Crystal Castles are expected to return soon enough to play a proper show centred on new music (III comes out Nov. 5), so don’t feel as though you missed anything transcendent here, beyond the group’s most confident Montreal performance yet. ■