Crystal Castles, "Crystal Castles"

4.5

Electronic duo Crystal Castles generally operates in two distinct modes--its songs are either angry dancefloor scorchers built around videogame blips or expansive shoegaze numbers that sail off upon waves of synth lines. Although the group's 2008 self-titled debut was furiously innovative in quick doses, its ideas tended to burn out during overlong songs or curious track sequences. Two years and an overabundance of hype later, producer Ethan Kath and singer Alice Glass return with another self-titled set that corrects all of their debut's miscues and remains eye-popping from beginning to end. The breathless movement of the track "Baptism" is preceded by the brutal stomp "Doe Deer," while the album reaches a midway peak with the chopped vocals of "Empathy" leading into the blissed-out "Suffocation." Kath's fearless production provides the creative catalyst for Glass, who moves beyond hellcat screaming and glides sensitively through tracks like "Celestica." Very little of "Crystal Castles" doesn't work, resulting in one of the most accomplished electronic albums in recent memory. --Jason Lipshutz