That synth antagonists Crystal Castles are even releasing an album in 2016 is something of a surprise. In 2014, vocalist Alice Glass announced “the end of the band”, citing problems with “self-expression” and working difficulties with founding member Ethan Kath. So central to the band’s abrasive sound were Glass’s half-cooed, half-screamed vocals that many fans would have assumed that that was game over. Two years later though, Kath has returned with a fourth Crystal Castles album and a new vocalist, Edith Frances. On the surface, Amnesty suggests that little has changed. All the usual hallmarks of a Crystal Castles record are here: violent blasts of chiptune and industrial noise set against moments of sweet melody, as on the glitchy, undulating Enth. Yet, where Glass’s powerful vocals used to cut through the digital cacophony, too often Frances’s blend into it, such as on the thumping Fleece. The result is an album that, while impressively intense, lacks the human urgency of their earlier work.
Crystal Castles: Amnesty review – digital cacophony from synth antagonists
Gwilym Mumford is Culture editor of the Guardian Saturday magazine. He also writes The Guide, a weekly pop-culture newsletter