Jul 21, 2011 Web Exclusive
Find It At: Insound
Crystal Antlers are capable of amping up the volume without losing focus, which is displayed on their sophomore full-length, Two-Way Mirror. Despite spiraling further into outer space with each release, the pysch-punk band that calls Long Beach, California home keeps the drone thick yet tailored and the raucous guitar-and-drum blitzkriegs—which drive tracks such as “By the Sawkill” and “Seance”—concise. Melodies, however, continue to take the back seat, replaced instead with textured arrangements that rage louder than Johnny Bell’s strained vocals. But with a band like Crystal Antlers, you’re not really listening to the lyrics as you join them on their journey through the nooks and crannies of their freakish universe.
Opener “Jules’ Story” doesn’t so much set the pace for Two-Way Mirror but sketches its mystifying soundscape. The sense of urgency that pummels through the track seems to deplete as Two-Way Mirror wears on, sparking again with the helical guitars of the album’s title track. But Two-Way Mirror remains at its core a prudent journey, plucky and booming but restrained, never stepping too far out of its preset realm, save for closer “Dog Days,” a lighter fare that, at an uncharacteristic languid six minutes, is a break from form. Less punk, more straight-up psych-rock, “Dog Days” inflicts a welcome bit of sunshine in Two-Way Mirror’s otherwise ghostly atmosphere. (www.crystalantlers.com)
Author rating: 5/10
Average reader rating: 9/10