album reviews

Crystal Stilts
Alight of Night
Slumberland Records (2008)

Drowning in all the reverb of early Jesus and Mary Chain, Brooklyn's Crystal Stilts don't add much new to their obvious influences on their latest release, "Alight of Night," but this trip down memory lane certainly is a pleasant one.

Hovering just slightly beyond all that fuzzy noise are the vocals of Brad Hargett, whose unenunciated mumble sounds like another instrument amid the lively din.

Hargett always sounds a bit detached, which provides a nice counterpoint with the band's energy; as they charge forward on "Prismatic Room," he drones on at nearly half-tempo. His actual words may be lost in the din, but his feelings of daze and displacement are evident from his disoriented tone. "Departure" sounds like a Joy Division tune played underwater, while the frantic bass line on "Crystal Stilts" sounds like traditional punk, until that organ line descends with a joyful squeal.

The Stilts may rest a little too comfortably in the nook of their heroes' sounds, but they pull it off so convincingly that they don't leave us longing for the originals. Other than the desire, perhaps, to eliminate a few crummy yearbook photos, who really needs a time machine when the Crystal Stilts can so skillfully evoke a time gone by?

-- Catherine P. Lewis

.: Originally published: The Washington Post: 13 March 2009, Page WE07
.: Alight of Night on