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'In Love With Oblivion,' Crystal Stilts

On their sophomore effort, Crystal Stilts fell short of our expectations.

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I've had my eye on the Crystal Stilts. The brooding Brooklyn quartet did a distinctive noisy garage thing on their entertaining, if uneven, 2008 debut, Alight of Night. Then came last year’s “Shake the Shackles” single, which seemed to brighten and sharpen the band’s murky, dissonant sound. All the ingredients were in line for a giant leap forward on the second album, In Love With Oblivion.

Well ... not quite.

There are some undoubtedly good moments here, from the Southwestern twang of opener “Sycamore Tree” to the driving energy of “Blood Barons.” But overall, the songwriting feels stilted and redundant. Copious amounts of reverb hide the details that your ear would rather take in. Singer Brad Hargett sticks with his rather dull lower register too much of the time. And over the course of 11 songs, little to nothing more than a detached sense of cool is evoked. Ah well. Maybe next time.

DOWNLOAD: “Shake the Shackles”

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