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Alight of Night

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Album Review

On Crystal Stilts' first full-length album, Alight of Night, the bandmembers aren't afraid to rely heavily on their obvious influences. On display for all to hear are the reverbed darkness of the early Jesus and Mary Chain, the twee punk energy of the Shop Assistants, the classic autumnal songcraft of Black Tambourine, and the raw and ragged production values of a hundred bands from the Seeds to Green on Red to Boyracer. Throw in some Velvet Underground, some C86, and some Love, and stir vigorously. What you end up with could be tired and derivative-sounding or it could be a thrilling mess of distorted energy. Alight of Night falls squarely in the latter half of that equation, and this is how they pull it off. For starters, there are the vocals of Brad Hargett. He mumbles and croons in a deadpan voice so mopey it feels like his face would crack if he ever fully formed syllables, much less words. Hargett hovers over the songs like a disaffected ghost, never cracking a smile or betraying any hint of lightness. It may take a spin or two to get past the remote iciness of his singing, but once you do it sounds perfectly appropriate in the context of the music, and his broken soul begins to seep into your brain. Next, they never make a false move musically. There are no lame solos, no lapses in taste, no moments they will wish they had back to do over. The band (wire-tough guitars by JB Townsend, powerful and simple drums from Frankie Rose) rocks hard when the song calls for it and provides the energy and drive that Hargett's vocals lack. It's a perfect blend of psychedelic gloom and garage rock punch, of indie pop hooks and girl group drama, of noise and candy. It's obvious from the first few seconds of Alight of Night that Crystal Stilts aren't doing anything shockingly new or innovative, and that's all right. They give the old noise pop formula enough of a kick to make this a very worthwhile addition to any noise pop fan's collection.


Formed: 2003 in Brooklyn, NY

Genre: Alternative

Years Active: '00s, '10s

Formed in New York in 2003 by Brad Hargett and JB Townsend, multi-influenced indie rock band Crystal Stilts released their first work -- some singles and an EP -- in 2004 on the Feathery Tongue label. The first single, "Shattered Shine," was followed by a series of local shows and then a five-song EP on Woodsist in 2008. Later that same year, their debut full-length album, Alight of Night, was released by Slumberland. While the records were made by the duo, they were joined by Kyle Forester on keyboards,...
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Alight of Night, Crystal Stilts
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