Editor's note: This preview was written, edited, and posted before former Crystal Castles member Alice Glass came forward to detail a history of sexual abuse by member Ethan Kath. The show was canceled after Glass released her statement.
Pinning Toronto electronic duo Crystal Castles' sound is more taxing than keeping up with their latest scandal. Like My Bloody Valentine two decades previously, Crystal Castles dare the listener to wade through the wicked to discern the beauty, but in this case, the journey is much more abrasive. Their 2008 debut, the first of three self-titled albums, was their lightest so far, blending dance music with lo-fi video game sounds and warped vocals. The 2010 follow-up (II) allotted higher highs, lower lows, and an even wider palate with broader sounds, from the ruthless "Doe Deer," in which Alice Glass claims to shriek the words "death star" repeatedly over an aggressive riff, to the gorgeous, world-wide charting "Not In Love" featuring Robert Smith of The Cure. The duo reigned in their sound on the disturbing and dystopic (III), released in 2012, maintaining their haunting but endlessly dancey electronic riffs over their most dire lyrics to date. The band splintered two years later, with Ethan Kath and Alice Glass promising to continue making music separately amidst their squabbles. With the help of Edith Frances as the new lead singer, Crystal Castles released the underwhelming Amnesty (I) in August 2016. This latest album sounds more like a selection of B-sides than the kind of boundary-dissolving, genre-bending collection Crystal Castles can pull off at their best. With all the vocal distortions produced, it is unlikely the sonic Crystal Castles experience will be much different, but Alice Glass' gothic glow will be missed. Opening up the show is Madison-based producer Chants, whose expansive and rhythmically complex work has taken on a harsh edge on a couple recent EPs, this year's Amethyst Dust and last year's The Zookeeper. —Caleb Oakley