Album review: Crystal Castles - (III)

New analogue approach by gloomy Canadian glitchsmiths parks up in a creative cul-de-sac.

Ethan Kath, the creative force behind the Toronto-based duo Castles, traded in all their keyboards and effects pedals for analogue synths before setting out on their third, darkly sober, nameless opus.

And softer, warmer elements do surface among the claustrophobic beats and brusque production.

‘I’ll protect you from all the things I’ve seen’ sings Alice Glass with a pallid insouciance on the divertingly oppressive Kerosene, one of the few decipherable lyrics that have escaped Kath’s production scissors unscathed.

But it’s hardly a reinvention. Trance beats and synth stabs leak onto a handful of tracks, most notably on the tiresome Sad Eyes, which is overlaid with tense, stabbing synths and swirling, blurred vocals.

Elsewhere, the echo-laden, tortured vocals and tinnitus glitch that characterise Pale Flesh’s otherwise pedestrian beat workout are as irritating as they are unsettling, and Insulin’s coruscating synths and treated vocals chopped blender-fine might be fresh, but fail to satisfy.

(III) loses its way in its own darkness and claustrophobia.

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2 stars