The Crystal Method

Divided by Night

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The Crystal Method have gradually shed the glossy big-beat techno that made their name in the late '90s as one of the few mainstream American answers to the Chemical Brothers and Daft Punk, and they've also matured as producers, which has resulted in better albums (but fewer dancefloor-filling singles). They may still grab influences from the best in '90s dance music, but they've become increasingly adept at constructing albums with more ideas (and subtlety) than the usual dance act. Divided by Night is indeed varied and polished, and it includes guest features by the bucketful, but it reveals again that, more than anything, the Crystal Method are merely clever regurgitators of the past, particularly chained to making extroverted dance music that never innovates and rarely excites. (Granted, this has happened to virtually every dance act of their generation, from the Chemical Brothers to Fatboy Slim.) The title track opener is a promising slow-burn start, but instead of exploding into the next track, the Peter Hook feature "Dirty Thirty," the record sputters with pedestrian breakbeats. Matisyahu makes "Drown in the Now" moderately fresh, and the longtime L.A. man about town Justin Warfield attempts to channel Phil Oakey on the future shock "Kling to the Wreckage," but these are yet more danceable electronica of the paint-by-numbers variety. There's a feeble attempt at an acid-techno burner on "Double Down Under," and wasted opportunities for a pair of indie crossovers with vocals by Metric's Emily Haines and Grandaddy's Jason Lytle. As they've matured, the Crystal Method have become an act who can occasionally beguile listeners, but they've easily been lapped by far better contemporaries and even overtaken by younger acts like Simian Mobile Disco and the Qemists.

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