Monday, May 16, 2011

Crystal Stilts and the Ghost of Joy Division

Over the years I have spent a fair amount of time basing INTERPOL and, to a lesser extent THE EDITORS, for aping the sound of JOY DIVISION for commercial success. Both bands have singers that have openly copied Ian Curtis' drab vocal inflections to the point of almost comedy. Where Interpol has in recent records tried to distance themselves and The Editors have dabbled in dance rhythms another band has stepped into the Joy Division void. However, CRYSTAL STILTS succeed in ways the other two failed.

The five piece band from Brooklyn have released their second record on Slumberland records (home of the brilliant THE PAINS OF BEING PURE AT HEART) to a fair amount of critical success. This is largely due to the industries undying affection for Joy Division. It is true that singer Brad Haggart's voice bears a similar tone to the late great Curtis, the music of the band's sophomore collection has the mark of a unique take on a signature sound. The opening spaghetti western guitar and keyboards of "Sycamore Tree" signal an original sound rather than an homage to the doom and gloom of Joy Division. "Through The Floor" has a early rock and roll vibe to it, while "Silver Sun" could be an outtake from an early ECHO AND THE BUNNYMEN record. "The single "Shake the Shackles" is what I imagine Joy Division would sound like now had Curtis not committed suicide and Bernard Sumner and Peter Hook not discovered dance music.

I have no idea if Crystal Stilts will fall victim to the weight of the comparisons that will be heaped upon them. but if they can keep challenging themselves without worrying about large scale commercial appeal right away, they will be just fine.

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