Crystal Antlers | Two-Way Mirror

Recreation Ltd. (2011)
By REYAN ALI  |  July 19, 2011
2.5 2.5 Stars

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Crystal Antlers' latest can be a pretty frustrating record — not because of what it is but because what it isn't. On their second LP, the Long Beach act had a chance to fine-tune the already-strong sound they established on 2009's Tentacles until it shined like a supernova. Unfortunately, in this edition, they repeat some of their earlier missteps in their delivery of intense psych-via-garage-and-punk rock. Instruments are still perpetually steeped in layers of reverb, feedback still frays and distorts the ends of melodies, and bassist/vocalist Jonny Bell's wails and howls are still only intelligible a fifth of the time. Sometimes the fact that they haven't screwed with their sound is a blessing, since the core is fantastic (opener "Jules' Story" reminds you of the ineffable power of emotionally turbulent rock and roll, and the latter half of "Fortune Telling" is like a prom slow-dance that ends in existential misery). But mostly, it'd be nice to be able to figure out what Bell is trying to say without having to wade through the reverb. Same goes for the playing and the production; removing some aimless instrumental parts or tightening the recording quality just a smidge would accentuate the many things they do right. Two-Way Mirror produces a handsome cacophony as is, but cutting away some of the gunk would have made it sweeter.

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  Topics: CD Reviews , Music, CD reviews, garage rock,  More more >
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