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Album Review
In Love With Oblivion

In Love With Oblivion
by Crystal Stilts

Label
Slumberland Records
Rating

Review Date
13th July 2011
Reviewed by
Vincent Michaelsen

If Crystal Stilts caught your attention three years ago with their well received debut Alight Of Night, it’s likely the group will do the same with their most recent effort. In Love With Oblivion seems very much the natural follow up to the band’s first release; it’s better produced, a little more grown-up and a little more complex. It also seems natural that Crystal Stilts have stuck with their winning combination of American stoner rock and British post punk, a union that comes off extremely well with this album. However good it may be though, to write a solid album based on trusted sounds and methods, In Love With Oblivion lacks anything to really boast about. And the album, for all that it’s worth, offers little that could not be found elsewhere.

The influences on this record are many and apparent. While sometimes leaning more heavily in the direction of The Jesus & Mary Chain, The Velvet Underground or Bauhaus, a mix of these sounds is ever present. And given the great consistency of sound on the album, few tracks really shake these sounds to break into something particularly original. ‘Prometheus At Large’, the album’s epic finale for example, with it’s chaotic, tension building guitars and almost tribal banging of the drum, could without a doubt be mistaken for a track from Lou Reed and Co if it were not for the vocals. Much the same could be said about the JMC/Brian Jonestown Massacre drenched track ‘Silver Sun’. By no means do I intend to say that this is an album of rip offs, but rather one which does little to move forward on old classics. The situation might be different here were the album more lyrically focused. Yet this isn’t really the case either, In Love With Oblivion contains mostly generic and difficult to decipher references to death, love and the eternal. The album isn’t however without it’s standout tracks, allowing the talent of the band to shine through. ‘Shake The Shackles’ displays more than a regurgitation of influences, culminating much of what is on the record into something solid and new. The extra complexities in vocal melody and more prominent synth use in particular, make this song less contrived and more interesting.

Musical similarities aside, production on the record could hardly be better. The use of vintage gear and seemingly old school methods deliver a back alley basement bar atmosphere. This naturally typecasts the album somewhat but it sounds good regardless. In fact, Crystal Stilts deserve all praises for the instrumentation and production of the album. While using a pretty standard setup of instruments, there is a constant feeling of a non-existent element in the music, a felling that there is more going on here than actually is. Rather than a muddiness of sound causing this, it’s quite the opposite. The soundscape is so complete and evenly spread that even at the album’s most minimalist moment the music never feels lacking.

This subtle building of layers is a sure sign at least that Crystal Stilts know just what they’re doing. While there’s no doubt that In Love With Oblivion is a supremely well crafted album, it’s whether you’ve had your fill of nonchalant 80/90s garage rock or not that will decide what you’ll be getting out of this record.


Links
crystalstilts.com


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