Album Review: Alight of Night – Crystal Stilts
(Angular Recording Corporation)
by Guy Sangster Adams
Like a girandole lighting a witching hour jaunt through a hall of mirrors, Alight of Night’s spinning cluster of fireworks illuminates, distorts, and delightfully re-imagines a host of influences on its journey.
Opening song The Dazzled instantly seduces as Andy Adler’s infectious bass, with equal shades of Steven Severin and Iggy Pop’s The Passenger, propels one into this eleven track tarantella. Through which Brad Hargett’s gloaming vocals lead one into the dark corners, whirling past reflections of Joy Division and Bauhaus, though any desire to stand in the shadows is perpetually pinball paddle-swiped back into an hybrid danceability mixing psychobilly wrecking crew and 1960s Mecca ballroom, as the shivery jangles and zingy treble of JB Townsend’s guitar counterpoint Frankie Rose’s portentous Shangri-Las drums. With tambourine shimmer and rasping harmonica also in the mix, the wall of sound interconnections are bonded by Kyle Forrester’s keyboards uprushing 60s surf and psychedelic pop via the Beach Boys and The Zombies.
The whole eclectic and contradictory mixture is most gloriously realised on Departure and Prismatic Room which formed the forerunning single released in early February, and the fusion of coruscating shards of sonic majesty that is Shattered Shine.
Given their shared musical references, Crystal Stilts are most often paralleled to the Jesus & Mary Chain, a band they equally cite as a key inspiration, and in fact the song Crystal Stilts is in many ways an homage to Just Like Honey. Underlying both bands, of course, is The Velvet Underground, and Alight of Night’s last track The City in the Sea transports one with the spine tingling beauty of Sunday Morning.
But Crystal Stilts are no hand-me-down hobbledehoys, they twist and swirl with a lustre all of their own through this album of sparkling titles to create a fabulous refulgent fractal.