Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir

Psychedelia, blues, pop, and a bit of proto-punk are just some of the ingredients on show for the third album by New York’s Crystal Stilts; entitled Nature Noire it’s a trip through some of the lesser performed genres.

I’ve got to admit that when I first heard this, I wasn’t quite sure what to make of it. To my ears, it seemed like a bit of a mish-mash of sounds that didn’t really work. Also, the singing of Brad Hargett seemed to not quite fit. However, at the risk of sound like a bit of a knob, I persevered as there was something about it that actually seemed to work.

Then, I listened to the whole album all the way through, and the penny dropped. This is not an album to be dipped into and out of, to listen to casually. You have to commit, and be wholehearted about it.

Opening track Spirit In Front of Me begins the album. The jangly guitars backed with backwards guitars, courtesy of JB Townsend, Hargett’s best Lawrence vocals (for those that don’t know, check out a band called Felt), and wonderfully rolling drums make a mellow start.

Star Crawl is the second track on the album. It’s less of a trip this one; the backwards guitars are gone to be replaced by a violin, and the jangly guitar is still here. In fact, the jangly guitar (the more I use that phrase, the more I think I can trademark it…) is a key sound of the album. Quite garage rock, but not as hard.

The pop I mentioned above is present in Sticks and Stones, which has ‘single’ written all over it. The bass of Andy Alder is fluid, vocally it is the song most suited here to radio, and the keyboard of Kyle Forrester adds a sheen to it. It’s a feel that is continued with the following Memory Room, which is the one song to not feature jangly guitar.

The title song…how I wish it was longer than two minutes and fifty seconds. Blues and psychedlic touches combining to make one hell of a strong song. The bass line is sublime, and feels like the lynchpin of the song, more so than the (by now trademarked phrase of) jangly guitar. It cuts off in its prime. MAKE IT BLOODY LONGER!!!!!!!!!

Anyway, I like this. It’s a good album. It’s one you have to devote yourself too, but considering the passion we all have for and about music, this should not come as a shock. Go dig it out.

Nature Noir by Crystal Stilts was released on Monday on Sacred Bones

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