AMNESTY (I) by Crystal Castles
Favorite Tracks: “Femen,” “Enth,” “Teach Her How to Hunt”
When it was announced in late 2014 that Crystal Castles frontwoman Alice Glass would leave the band to pursue a solo career, leaving multi-instrumentalist Ethan Kath, an outcry could be heard from fans the world over. Every music blog in existence raced to their keyboards proclaiming themselves prophets of Crystal Castles’ downfall after disapproving of the third LP. 4chan’s /mu/, which could have very well served exclusively as an Alice Glass fan forum circa 2011, was flooded with waifu threads to cope with the panic. The entirety of the electro-industrial fuckboi community was in a state of disarray.
In the months after, sparks flew between Kath and Glass. Upon releasing his single, “Frail,” under the Crystal Castles name, Kath offered a backhanded good luck statement implying she was never needed. Glass responded on Twitter proclaiming good riddance and disclosing an eagerness to share her solo stuff. Her single “STILLBIRTH,” coupled with a statement attempting to bring awareness to abusive relationships, was then released. Now, this would be all well and good if the music produced from this beef was at all interesting, but it sadly wasn’t. AMNESTY (I) continues this trend and thus makes everything all the more tragic.
Everyone knew that Kath’s new vocalist, Edith Frances, would be a shameless Alice Glass copycat. Truth is, incorporating a singer who emulates Glass on every level, from whisper to shout, is probably one of the only positives this record has going for it. Kath only uses her sparingly so as to not trigger any flashbacks, favoring a plethora of uninspired and maybe even recycled synth beats.
There are brief glimpses of hope here and there. The noisy interlude “Teach Her How to Hunt” hints at a less safe, more fun change of pace (but only leads to blue balls), and the reversed choir version of “Smells Like Teen Spirit” on “Femen” is fairly engaging. But the bulk of what AMNESTY (I) brings to the table is either boring or hinges on being a halfhearted retreading of previous Crystal Castles releases.
It’s clear Kath put little to no thought on the production side of things. In differing with his past work, tracks no longer build up into a darkly danceable, punk-approved torrent of synths and screams but instead anticlimactically fade out. The tracks that do take advantage of both Frances’s vocals and Kath’s synths, like “Enth” for instance, ride the nostalgia train so hard that it is almost unbearable. It makes a revisitation to “Baptism” or “Doe Deer” practically necessary.
Suffice to say, listening to AMNESTY (I) has brought more pain than anything else… and not the good kind of pain! The more familiar one is with Crystal Castles, the more painful this album will be for them. For newcomers, you’re better off listening to the BATMAN BEYOND theme or better yet, CRYSTAL CASTLES (II).
Verdict: Do Not Recommend