Released August 19, 2016
by Kendra Cooper
Crystal Castles gives us new front-woman beginnings with their fourth album Amnesty (I). After the unforgettable Alice Glass left the group under shaky circumstances with producer Ethan Kath, Edith Frances stepped into vocals and the high standards of their audience.
It’s never easy to replace a vocalist in an established group. This is especially true when your group had one of the most eye-catching and enigmatic front women we’ve seen in years. That might be why it seems like Kath is playing it safe this album. Haunting, glitchy, and riding the line of experimental, but one could listen from the start to end without being caught off guard. Still, the duo doesn’t disappoint.The “(I)” could be a hint at more to come. This could be the intro inviting in new listeners, and what follows might be more innovative.
Femen pulls in the past by featuring Scala & Kolacny Brothers with their choir rendition of Nirvana’s Smells Like Teen Spirit. But can Kath really make that kind of ode to history without successfully addressing his own? Glass can’t be broken and swept away that easily.
At least Edith Frances brings an air of mystery to this album. Recently Rolling Stone commented on her minimalist internet presence, a rarity these days and perfect for that witch-house vibe. She echoes Glass vocally, but we’ll have to wait and see if she can maintain the aesthetic Glass naturally radiated. Frances’ voice does hold up strong against Kath’s trip-hop brilliance, and aggressive timing.She’s the utopian glow in this industrial dystopia.
Speaking of utopias, the duo is making it obvious that this album is influenced by more than just sound. If the album’s title doesn’t give you a clue, some of the song titles will. They’re touching on human rights and politics, which is very punk rock of the post-punk duo. Unfortunately, they fail to get the message across.
Enth is breathtaking. It’s hypnotic intensity is spellbinding. This is one you’ll want to add to a mixtape created for losing yourself in sound.
Char is the pièce de résistance of this album. The clarity of Frances’ voice breaks through Kath’s thrilling synth. They find a remarkable balance in this song, something they seem to struggle with on the other tracks.
Overall the album is an auditory trip. Kath and Frances are your genius guides through the highs and lows of noise and melody. They’re unique and unmatched in the music industry, but they still have to compete with their own past.
Standout Tracks: Char, Enth, Sadist, and Chloroform.