Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir

written by: September 19, 2013
Album-art-for-Nature-Noir-by-Crystal-Stilts Release Date: September 17, 2013


Crystal Stilt’s new album Nature Noir is a mopey, psychedelic rock-n-roll daydream.

“I woke up with the spirit in front of me,” vocalist Brad Hargett sings on opening track “Spirit In Front of Me.” The introduction sets the album’s hazy mood. This album from Crystal Stilts includes some newer sounds—strings are included on several tracks, such as “Star Crawl” and “Sticks and Stones”—but they still exist in groggy echoes.

“Future Folklore” is one of the tracks that lean toward rock-n-roll. Keys, percussion, and guitar licks accent this upbeat tune.

Even though musically speaking, this track is more awake than others on the album, Hargett’s voice is still a somber drone. JB Townsend’s guitar strums tend to dictate the tone and melody of each track, but sly guitar licks on “Future Folklore” give the song a bluesy feel.

Some experimental outros, such as those on “Sticks and Stones,” are nice additions between tracks. They provide refreshing breaks between the otherwise daze-like melodies. One settles into the hypnotic rhythms and sounds of the album, but these unexpected disruptions keep it all from blending together.

Sonically, “World Gone Weird” is one of Nature Noir‘s standout tracks. Halfway through the song, the established beat takes a dreamy turn, losing the melody in a daze, only to sync back up again after an eternity of 15 seconds.

The melody also breaks with the lyrics, “Worlds gone weird/We’re still here.” Throughout the album, psychedelic breaks appear in unexpected places, making some pleasant sonic surprises.

On “Darken The Door,” Crystal Stilts adds beats reminiscent of a circus—if that circus were being rewound with reverb, that is. These little moments make Nature Noir a darker album than one might initially realize.

It never steps into a truly gloomy territory, but some of the less melodic sounds that Crystal Stilts produces are somewhat eerie, like the sounds are swirling around together, rather than being organized into a coherent beat. It makes the album intriguingly trippy.

The final track of Nature Noir is slow and sentimental. With strings and a mellow, acoustic feel,“Phases Forever” doesn’t have as intense a presence as some of the other tracks. It feels like the slowest song on the album;  the 20 seconds of reverb at the end of the track bring the album to a quiet close.

This release is, at times, darker than Crystal Stilts’ previous work. The band’s last two releases, In Love With Oblivion and Alright of Night, both had distinct surf-rock qualities that made them seem a little lighter. Nature Noir also has a more mature sound; there seems to be more intention in the musical composition.

Nature Noir is an interesting album. It is clearly thought out, and overall is a step up for Crystal Stilts. The band maintains its moseying psychedelia quality, but with a more polished and cohesive approach.

Crystal Stilts – Nature Noir tracklist:

  1. “Spirit In Front of Me”
  2. “Star Crawl”
  3. “Future Folklore”
  4. “Sticks and Stones”
  5. “Memory Room”
  6. “Worlds Gone Weird”
  7. “Darken the Door”
  8. “Electrons Rising”
  9. “Nature Noir”
  10. “Phases Forever”