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Album Review: Crystal Castles - Amnesty (I)

15 August 2016 | 4:56 pm | Mac McNaughton

"Frances could be calling for the canonisation of Tony Abbott or reciting a killer maple-bacon donut recipe for all we know."

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Considering the often fractious nature of Crystal Castles' music, the end of the Alice Glass era shouldn't have been a surprise to anyone. But focus on the grubby details, TMZ-style, The Music shall not, for this new album — underlined by a rebooted numeric subtitle — reins in a new vocalist, Edith Frances, and back-barges over old territories.

Shove the volume up to 11 and Frances easily passes for Glass. This could be Ethan Kath's most effective 'fuck you' to his former partner as he takes ownership of the brand, reducing Glass to being replaceable. But, as listeners, we are sold short by an opportunity to see what else he can do (and indeed, what powers Frances possesses). Distortion and overloading all frequencies is a bewitching technique masterfully executed (again) in the magnificently claustrophobic Concrete and psychotic Fleece. Frances could be calling for the canonisation of Tony Abbott or reciting a killer maple-bacon donut recipe for all we know, but these ghoulish parlour tricks have been heard before on records by both Crystal Castles and The Knife. Indeed, Char borrows liberally from Silent Shout's terror calypso, evoking an 8-bit sun-kissed beach where the Dreijer siblings mix cocktails with a smack of formaldehyde. When Sadist takes off from O Superman's (Laurie Anderson) exit ramp, Amnesty (I) feels all the more like a placeholder while the new Crystal Castles discover and redefine themselves.