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Crystal Stilts - Crystal Stilts

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Artist: Crystal Stilts

Album: Crystal Stilts

Label: Woodsist

Review date: Aug. 19, 2008

Lo-fi, sluggish, and with little in the way of musicality, Crystal Stilts play learnerís curve Anglo-pop with maximum apathy. People seem to like them - maybe itís because the songs are so indistinct and unthreatening; perhaps itís because everyone was dying to know what Peter Murphy would sound like singing underwater with cottonballs in his mouth. Crystal Stiltsí chief melodist is also clearly into Ian Curtis, who in death has become the Jim Morrison of the anemic indie set.

The guitars are out-of-tune, the keyboards plinky and thereís so much reverb on the vocals they sound like they were recorded in a rec room down the street. Thatís perfectly well and fine, but the question that Crystal Stilts never manage to answer is why the fuck anyone should care. Their self-titled debut EP might make tolerable background music while youíre doing your taxes, but at some point youíll accidentally pay attention. And at that moment, youíll realize that everything sounds amateur and soporific, and not in a remotely interesting way.

Look, I get it: Brooklyn band filches Manchester gloom and shoegaze lethargy, plays a few shows and makes bloggers cream. Not a novel tale, by any means. But when did it become appropriate to reward a bandís obvious lack of interest in its own music? Itís not like the people who could actually benefit from Crystal Stilts - those downcast high schoolers with entry-level recording equipment - will ever even hear them. Nope, this reductive and unoriginal (did I mention dull? itís dull!) music is custom-made for indie blog clearinghouses and other online echo chambers where groupthink and attention deficit trump context and taste. Because, despite their sudden ascendancy, no one really says anything about Crystal Stilts - theyíre mutely approved and plunked into the mp3 aggregator, just the latest band to painfully illustrate that thereís something wrong with the filter.

By Casey Rae-Hunter

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