Crystal Stilts

In Love with Oblivion

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On their debut, Alight of Night, Crystal Stilts concocted an instantly recognizable noise pop meets '60s psych sound built around fuzzy guitars, swirling organ, huge amounts of reverb, and Brad Hargett’s vocals, which are deadpan to the point of wanting to check for his vital signs. For the follow-up, In Love with Oblivion, the band wisely decided not to change much. Apart from Hargett and guitarist JB Townsend getting the rest of the band (bassist Andy Adler, organist Kyle Forester, and drummer Keegan Cooke) into the studio this time, really the only difference is in the details. They introduce some boogie beats (most notably on the buoyant "Through the Floor"), some jangle, and a little more energy overall to give the sound some kick. Also, where Alight felt kind of claustrophobic and insular at times, here the sound is much warmer and expansive. It could be down to the heavier role the keyboards play in the arrangements, but it’s also likely that the band felt more comfortable in the studio. Whatever the reason, it’s a great-sounding record. There’s a lighter, happier feel throughout as well. Most of the songs breeze by at elevated tempos, chiming sweetly ("Silver Sun") or pounding furiously ("Shake the Shackles"). A few times the band even sounds a little woozily giddy, as on "Half a Moon," which sounds like the best song on a Pebbles comp, or the oddly danceable "Precarious Stair." A couple of songs give in to the underlying gloom beneath the surface; the long "Alien Rivers" is the most Opal-like, with Hargett's vocals sounding more disembodied than usual. The lyrics can be a little much -- no one should use the word sarcophagus in a song, not even Peter Murphy -- but you can just ignore these fleeting moments and let the music cover for them. Maybe the band can’t keep making the same record over and over without major overhauls, but for now a few minor changes and a strong batch of songs are just fine. In Love with Oblivion is exactly the record Crystal Stilts should have made at this point in their career.

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