Crystal Antlers – Tentacles (2009)

Wolf Parade, Wolf&Cub, Wolf Eyes, Wolfmother, Holy Fuck, Fucked Up, Fuck Buttons, Girl Talk, Women, The Morning after Girls, not to mention the countless amount of ‘The’ bands. Now crystal is the new animal as we have: Crystal Castles, Crystal Stilts, Crystal Skulls and of course Crystal Antlers (which very strategically adds an animal part to the new band name trend).

Crystal Antlers are hard to describe. They’re essentially a psych-band with garage roots, but they don’t comfortably sit in a specific genre. They’re the type of band you’ll expect to shift and musically explore.

In 2008 Crystal Antlers released a self titled EP that emerged almost out of nowhere that proceeded to shake the lo-fi genre with exhilarating but never exhausting songs that begged multiple listens. In the song ‘Parting Song for the Torn Sky’ for instance, the bass guitar slowly builds, with the guitar feedback collectively building into an orgy of wah-wails and cacophonous spastic chaos. Lead man and bassist Jonny Bell ear piercingly screams that echoes through the speakers and washes all over the body. It is 7 minutes of pure bliss! Crystal Antler raped our ears (in a good way) with its thunderous organs and wailing guitars in 2008, one would expect they were preparing for something huge for their follow up LP Tentacles.

The good news is Tentacles is a fine record that boasts energetic tracks that prove to be ferocious and chaotic in nature. However truth be told, it never reaches to the level of its predecessor as it feels a little premature and comfortable.

In the opener ‘Painless Sleep’, the organ flutters relentlessly to a pulsating drum beat and guitar line that builds to an unfortunately abrupt ending. ‘Dust’ fares better with its playful organ and dramatic bass line. Jonny sounds extremely comfortable as he barks in tune with the melody. In ‘Andrew’ the organ rings anxiously against Jonny’s vulnerable vocals that quickly diverge rhythmically with its busy drumming. ‘Memorized’ proves to be the highlight as it creates the near intensity of the previous EP. Then we have ‘Glacier’ which is a nice number, but it never feels entirely memorable.

By the middle of the record, it is apparent that they’re approaching their sound differently to their previous EP. While there are no misfires, most of the songs never build to the height of ‘Parting Song for the Torn Sky’.

If the EP was working up to an orgasm, then Tentacles is the pre-cum. Let’s see if the sophomore is the explosion I was expecting.

(74 - OR)
Combined Rating = 75

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