Sensitivity, melancholy and vulnerability on top of a fire-starting punky vigor...
Jamie Milton

10:34 22nd January 2009

Let die the petty comparisons that come with a new band with a bad mood and a bass-heavy, stripped down sound. I needn't mention the name of the act that's gotten cosy with the likes of Interpol, Snowden and Editors. They're also becoming a familiar face with Crystal Stilts, but that could be put to shame with 'Alight of Night' because with this album, we see glimpses of a new intelligence that divides them from the 80's contemporary. We see a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel with this situation that has bogged down the moody, modern day, garage punk band.

And this "new intelligence" is as visible as breath on a cold window, it'd be hyperbolic to try and claim Crystal Stilts are revolutionaries of their genre but they're playing new tricks and they're all the better for it. Their debut is minimal, making the obnoxious, flared-up punk energy that's so raucous in their live shows, not peaceful, but tolerable and most of all, explorable. With Times New Viking's purposely lo-fi 'Rip It Off', it's difficult to uncover anything other than the frenzy of a sound they claim as their own. But with 'Alight of Night' you hear sensitivity, melancholy and most importantly, vulnerability on top of this fire-starting punky vigor.

Wherever this was recorded, it added a new-found atmosphere to the band's already carefully moulded outlook of doom. It crafted this new sense of variety to their sound. Whereas 'Departure' (previously of a different title) used to be a bog-standard, enjoyable none the less, pessimistic punk piece, a newly added complex bassline, a lower pitch of vocals and a more simplistic drum pattern has given the option to the listener to interpret the song in their own way. That's not always the case, 'Bright Night' retains its rude and abrupt attitude, as does 'SinKing', a racey number that never lacks in its determined and almost angry stance.

But on 'Alight of Night' it seems as if Crystal Stlits have set out to defy any critics that classify every one of their songs as similar to one another. They've added diversity in mood, pace etc. and have in turn, truly surprised me, among many others I'd expect. 'Shattered Shine' may present an exclusive slant of happiness, but inside it's still very much the same band we're listening to as in the background a giant slap of feedback is brought into peice halfway through. Nevertheless, this is very much a different scope of sounds altogether; we're drawn striaght towards it with opener 'The Dazzled', a classy, smooth welcome mat for the listener - a complete contrast to the predatory beast that follows in the form of a self-titled second track. And from then-afterwards the quieter, more melancholic chunks are scattered in between the conventional up-tempo "anthems" of sorts that were on display from the start with their debut EP.

And this self-titled EP was a quick, sure-fire way of getting some much-deserved attention and since then, they're clearly worked on and almost mastered a sound that blends optimism and tenderness into something we'd never have expected to hear from such a frankly, miserable bunch.