Crystal Stilts- 'Alight of Night' (Angular 16/2/09)
So many possible introductions. A lazy music journalist would make some “is 'crystal' the new 'black'” connection. If I were Ross Noble I'd make some poor attempt at describing the ker-azy implausibilities of walking on a pair of glass stilts. Or in an attempt to be trendy I could describe how this is a beautiful addition to the pantheon of shoegaze revivalism along with A Place To Bury Strangers and The Pains of Being Pure At Heart.
But although Crystal Stilts have been tarred with that brush, it doesn't really suit their hue. 'The Dazzled', other than a vocal coming through a slight haze, contains little hints of “sonic cathedrals” or whatever other clichéd shoegaze reference you cared to crowbar in. It's a simple rock 'n' roll ditty, based on a jangly guitar and reverb laden vocals. Garage rock would be a much more apposite genre placement.
And self titled follow up 'Crystal Stilts' sounds like a thawed out Raveonettes. Desert nights are channelled on 'Graveyard Orbit', a rattle of tambourine and Velvet Underground organ. 'Alight of Night' maintains a slow pace throughout, giving it a lethargic summertime feel. The hazy 1960s style production adds to this warm feeling. 'Prismatic Room' follows all the tenets of the pop handbook, but the layer of fuzz just adds something undefinable to the music.
'The Sinking' ups the languid pace, bringing to mind the pop nuggets of Vivian Girls, whose ex-drummer Crystal Stilts acquired on some indie transfer market.
Whilst all this backwards looking music won't nick Animal Collective's avant garde baubles, it does make you want to drive across America in a convertible, a shotgun on the back seat, sun blaring down and a blonde in the front seat. Freedom and guitars. 'Departure' brings to mind the 60s girl groups so beloved of Glasvegas and Bradford Cox.
Crystal Stilts aren't going to receive many plaudits for their lyrics. 'Verdant Gaze' features these clunky lines. “She awaits me impatiently, Floats around me weightlessly, She whispers to me wordlessly, Urging me to discern her face.” Not that it matters. Half the words are undecipherable, and they work better as just another instrument, a lamenting monotone over the top of the guitars.
The only low point on a record filled with rattling gems is 'Spiral Transit', which is too slow paced, with too much vocal mumbling and too little melody. All this can be forgiven though, for large swathes of 'Alight of Night' are joyous revivalist garage rock, dancing a waltz around all its opposition. 4.5/5