November 20, 2008

Crystal Stilt: Alight of Night

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Listening to Alight of Night is like lying on the beach listening to sun-drenched pop music — except it’s nighttime and raining and the sound in your headphones is fuzzy. You probably aren’t very happy, and neither are Crystal Stilts. However, the album’s jangly guitars and ever-present tambourine would have you believe otherwise, if it weren’t for the haunting echoes and previously mentioned hazy quality to their sound.
This Brooklyn-based group has been generating quite a bit of buzz recently, and finally released their debut full-length album a few weeks ago. Much of the excitement surrounding them has been in part due to the recent addition of Vivian Girls drummer Frankie Rose to their lineup, but what really draws the crowds are the poppy surf-guitar hooks of JB Townsend.
It starts immediately with the dreamy “The Dazzled,” and continues on throughout, with singer Brad Hargett droning melancholically and indecipherably. The only downside to this, however, is that much of the album sounds the same; without listening closely, the songs seem to melt into one another with an ambient quality that makes this album sometimes more fit for background music than dancing or singing along to. The appreciation of Alight of Night lies more in recognizing its subtleties, which is, admittedly, a difficult task at times.
If given the chance, however, tracks such as “Prismatic Room,” “Departure,” and the title track will stand out among all of the fuzziness as gems. The last song, too, “The City in the Sea,” though a slower tempo than many of the songs, breaks away from the lo-fi fog and acts like a breath of fresh air at the end.
Overall, Crystal Stilts’s first attempt at an LP is a promising one. Hopefully their future efforts will diversify their sound, but for now, it’s good enough to want to surf and be sad at the same time.