The battlefield of ’00s electro-tantrum spazz-ravers is littered with the corpses of those who burned too brightly at the outset and, in the process, burned out any interest in a sustained career of noisemaking. After all, once you’ve shocked and awed the glowstick crowd with synth-stabs and video-game glitches that fry synapses and short-circuit the minds of casual fans, where is there to go?
For their second, homonymous album, the stuttery Canuck duo Crystal Castles have replaced most of the non-stop screeching high jinks that made them (in)famous with a predeliction for yearning synth-pop. The friction between the occasional bouts of the old electronic pummeling (like the scud attack of “Doe Deer”) and the glistening new-romanticism of “Violent Dreams” and “Year of Silence” is refreshing.
But the real excitement comes when they mix both in the same song, achieving the warehouse/dance-floor satori that elevates should-be-singles like “Baptism” and the gauzy “Not in Love” (the latter a cover by obscure Canadian ’80s-new-wavers Platinum Blonde). Having put aside the gimmicky Atari-melting antics of yore, the Castles have created a dense-yet-airy thicket of pure pop transcendence.