Love Is All, Crystal Stilts, Bird Names | Empty Bottle | Rock, Pop, Etc | Chicago Reader

Love Is All, Crystal Stilts, Bird Names Recommended Early Warnings (Music) Soundboard Critics' Picks

When: Sun., Dec. 14, 9 p.m. 2008

Can a band from Gothenburg hold our interest now that Pitchfork has deemed all of Africa to be the next Sweden? Is the Scandinavian-pop meme already dead? Now that cutesy-voiced girl singers are de rigueur, embedded deep in our cultural cortex, can we still fetishize them as “the Other”? Is the new Love Is All record, A Hundred Things Keep Me Up at Night (What’s Your Rupture?), as flawless as their last? Can they sustain the hype? Are they the best jittery new-wave dance band with a saxophone since the Psychedelic Furs? The answers are clear: maybe, no, probably not, not quite but it’s more freaked out, unlikely, and yes, definitely. —Jessica Hopper Almost everything I’ve read about the Crystal Stilts refers to them as a garage-rock band, but their first full-length, Alight of Night (Woodsist), has a lot more nuance and a lot less wilin’ out than that tag might imply. The songs are typically simple, treble-heavy pop that bears more than a passing resemblance to the output of New Zealanders like the Clean, layered with the kind of reverb the Jesus and Mary Chain lifted from 60s girl groups and topped off with singer Brad Hargett’s oddly likable moan. A lot of the tunes don’t seem to have much in the way of hooks, and what hooks there are usually end up buried under all that reverb and moaning—but somehow this doesn’t hurt the record at all. Maybe it’s the restrained performances, maybe it’s some new kind of hookiness that can only be apprehended subliminally, maybe it’s cunning production that nails the perfect ratio of reverb to treble—whatever it is, though, I can’t stop listening. —Miles Raymer Bird Names open, Crystal Stilts play second, and Love Is All headlines.

Price: $12

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