[sic] Magazine

Crystal Stilts – In Love With Oblivion

Like its predecessor, In Love With Oblivion never breaks a sweat. Yet, again following suit, it more than manages to make the grade all the same. This may be frustrating to some, but it’s also an effortlessly cool trick to those that count. Crystal Stilts have however made significant strides since that debut. Retaining its dark atmospherics, they present themselves in turn without overt reference to Alight Of Night ‘s oh-so-apparent checklist: Psychocandy , Unknown Pleasures and any Velvet Underground record you care to mention.

Now very much in their own zone thanks to a graveyard boogie derived from 60s, organ-filled psyche, the band’s jangling guitars and never-too-much-echo ethos become pleasing accoutrements rather than weighty cornerstones. This breezy attitude works wonders too. The majority of In Love With Oblivion follows this template accordingly, only taking its foot off the gas for “Silver Sun”, which lumbers out of the shade with little account of itself amongst such otherwise illustrious company.

Despite opening with an intangible, ghostly sequence, you’d be hard pressed to find a stronger cut this year than “Sycamore Tree”. It’s latterly a super-tight joy, cruising on iconic riffs, percussive shuffle and Brad Hargett ‘s echoing vocals, and that’s before it breaks into buzzing organ and a Brooklyn-style hoedown. This said, the impeccable, shadowy jangle and driving echo of the single “Shake The Shackles” runs it very close – Hargett’s drawn out vocals, at their juxtaposing doom-and-va-va-voom best here, only further strengthen the case.

With a considered garage stomp for accompaniment in places, a heady, woozy flicker elsewhere thanks to the diaphanous combination of hazy echoes, it’s an overall vocal turn that comes injected with a scrap more life than on Alight Of Night , the lyrics now both audible and discernible in the mix.

Ponderous and patient, “Alien Rivers” is a numbing, seven-minute slow-paced ride through a syrupy psychedelic underworld. It concentrates all the bleakest moments of Alight Of Night , repackaging them to slightly appease those lamenting the band having gone minutely more summery. Also of note is the closing, all-out romp “Prometheus At Large”. For, opening with the new-wave urgency of Blondie ‘s “Call Me”, it then descends into darker places thanks once again to Hargett’s vocal scuzz – this time coming supported by the full cast’s general deconstruction of sound that ultimately degrades into a rolling rhythm overlain with sporadic clanks and parps.

Harnessing that dusty, lost 60s’ classic feel – the sort of thing you hope to track down in forgotten corners at yard sales – In Love With Oblivion rolls in late, aces its finals in double-quick time and then, without asking, nips out for a smoke in full view of everyone’s gaping jaws. Consequently, like you’d want it as a friend, you need it as a record.

Advised downloads: “Sycamore Tree” and “Shake The Shackles”.

~In Love With Oblivion is out now via Slumberland / Fortuna Pop! ~