Krystal is a lesson in the art of simplicity as the ultimate sophistication
Michelle Lloyd
13:56 6th November 2019

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Largely written and produced in his South East London bedroom, Maltese’s second record sees a distinct departure from Bad Contestant, but not in the accustomed manner. Second albums are ordinarily grander, with more production and more sophisticated soundscapes; but Matt has gone with the other side of the coin. He’s stripped it back and returned to the unmistakable sound that acquired his doting cult audience back in 2015 with debut single ‘Even If It’s A Lie’. And when you write as agonisingly, astutely and intimately as Maltese there really is no need for all those bells and whistles.

Fortified with great candor and probity, in simple terms, Krystal is an unbridled and first-hand account of a break up; with Maltese himself apprising that it documents a specific relationship as well as some of his past experiences. Unsurprisingly it’s awash with melancholy and self-efficacy and blood and thunder, but unlike some of his peers there’s no hint of duplicity or rancour; it’s noticeably authentic without ever being self-indulgent. The droll humour that characterised his debut still abundant and balancing the morose amiably.

Showing vulnerability and highlighting the fragility of the human condition has never been a problem for Maltese, and ‘Curl Up and Die’ is a first-rate example of just how messed up love can make us: “I worshipped the ground you walked on, I’d cut off my ear for you, I worshipped the towel you dried on, I’d kill all my friends for you”. Whilst seemingly a little disturbing in the first instance and perhaps more reminiscent of a line from an episode of Killing Eve; it so shrewdly conveys that obsessive neurosis that takes over when you’ve lost someone you loved. We’ve all felt that infinite enrapture that certain people can bring and the disarray it can cause, yet very few of us are comfortable in admitting it warts and all; making Maltese’s admissions that much more cathartic to hear.

‘Jupiter’ continues the theme of yearning and despondency with a hint of self-deception. Tender vocals chime through bombastic declarations of how not even Jupiter could restrain his devotion and how he would satisfy himself being an ulcer in their mouth just to be near them. Completely ludicrous of course but once again on the money with how it actually feels in that desperate moment of longing.

Whereas ‘When you Wash Your Hair’ is the paragon of all that Krystal is about with its starkness and sparseness, the scintillating ‘Tokyo’ is the show pony; something which every album needs, and proving Maltese hasn’t lost all his theatrics.

It’s a brave decision to essentially take a step-in reverse, but it’s most definitely paid off for Maltese, further cementing his position as one of the most equitable and sincere young artists around. And providing he doesn’t kill all his friends and end up at Her Majesty’s pleasure, his star will undoubtedly continue to ascend. 

Krystal is released on 8 November 2019 via 7476.

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