Review: Crystal Method ‘Crystal Method’ Stays Safe in Tedium

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Five years after Divided By Night, Crystal Method drops their new, self-titled album, to mixed results.  Crystal Method isn’t a bad record, but it’s clear that CM members Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan are not particularly interested in pushing boundaries anymore.  Is that a crime? No, but electronica tends to pop when new flavors are mixed in. I wanted this new album to knock me out, not leave me resorting to Skrillex comparisons.

If the main function of Crystal Method, both band and album, is to get butts moving, then the lack of surprise doesn’t equate the album with failure. Opening jam “Emulator” is as glossy a dance number as you can get. Driving drums, a thumping bass line, and random blips of keyboards. “Emulator” calls out for a light show, a smoke machine, and a multi-level nightclub where the beautiful people grind up next to each other. Same with “Jupiter Shift”, another slick rump shaker.

tcrmhumbThe most interesting work on the album comes from the collaborations. Crystal Method mixes it up with Dia Frampton, former contestant on The Voice; to deliver a slice of dubstep titled “Over It”. The song is pure pop, a glorious confection of catchy vocals and other worldly rhythms. Frampton’s beguiling vocals are soulful, inspiring the Method to try and elicit soulful music from their decidedly non-soulful machines. While never sacrificing the spastic chirps and bleeps they’re known for, Kirkland and Jordan shift their focus from pure dance, which is awesome.

“Storm Castle” featuring Le Castle Vania is a cinematic tune. The hyperkinetic energy speaks right to action movies. Visualize a Mortal Kombat fantasy fistfight, or super-speed car chase through the streets of futuristic Tokyo. Yeah. That’s it. That’s “Storm Castle”. Crystal Method really step outside their comfort zone on “Grace”, a lush, slower jam featuring LeAnn Rimes. Crystal Method step back on the attack, preferring to seduce us with mood as opposed to bash our skull in with beats. When LeAnn Rimes’ lush vocals pour over the trance-like music, “Grace” becomes something much bigger than the sum of its parts.

Hearing “Grace” is part of what curled my lip up about the rest of Crystal Method. I desperately wanted more of this kind of experimentation, but it never comes. Especially not with the predictable “After Hours”, and the rather dull “110 To The 101”. “Sling The Decks” is a solid entry, though sections of it feel like a rehash of the Bones theme.

Overall, Crystal Method is a decent album, just not what I was hoping for from the dynamic duo of EDM. The CM faithful should give this a spin, I’m fairly certain it will satisfy their craving. Everyone else, well, jump into Crystal Method if you’re looking to dance your legs down to the knees, otherwise you might find yourself frustrated with the tedium. 

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