Music Reviews
In Love With Oblivion

Crystal Stilts In Love With Oblivion

(Slumberland) Rating - 8/10

Here’s a fallacy that has possessed the current wave of garage pop revivalists: to atone with the hippie ethos, the compositional structure has to sound as effortless as nature intends. Seeping its seeds with dainty choruses and merry smiles, those slacker-fied guitar clanks and tinny pounds would most likely guarantee an opening slot at the Monterey Festival. But what goes after that? It happened to the best of them: The Seeds, ? and the Mysterians, and The Trashmen all had a premature demise because they couldn’t figure out how to broaden their mid-afternoon enlightenment after a twelve hour slumber.

So while the current Bay Area sunshiners get their priorities straight before they face unemployment after album number one, former abject peons Crystal Stilts pay hard time and come out a little bit more mature from the catacombs. Brad Hargett, a dismayed poet whose drunken grumble could wake up an owl in the daytime, leads his group into a far more effervescent set of songs that steps them up a tier in the garage rung. Instead of merely clouding their songs with fuming reverb, In Love With Oblivion compels with an imperial command of walloping twang whilst humbly servicing a rich breadth of keyboard boogie.

Crystal Stilts are ones who like their schedule to be flexible – they carry out a psychotic, midnight showing of discordance in Sycamore Tree, and then immediately break into the one-two punch of Through the Floor and Silver Sun, two sleazy pop romps that manage to surpass the Smith Westerns’ recent pursuit of swinging glam grooves. Their tact for cadenced bounce and trounce is contagious: Half a Moon goes for a carnivalesque revolving door of organs and chiming guitars (which eerily resembles the Magic Kingdom’s night parade), while Flying Into the Sun budges with a fifties diner pop jangle that could alternate Only the Lonely had Roy Orbison been more ominously inclined. They may have skipped the bipolar medication, but they actually control a linear course to compensate for all the frenzied psychedelic touches scattered throughout.

In Love With Oblivion may only display grey intonations on first impression, but multiple spins begin to unfurl its ghoulish sense of atmosphere. It may be the product of a different time, but the Crystal Stilts defy their contemporaries just like the Sonics obliterated the competition in their time with foreboding intentions. [Yeah, another band whose glory didn’t last very long.] In our current garage-prone musical climate, which cries simplicity and casual idiocy, the Crystal Stilts are mounting a great deal of creativity into their garage inclination.  Besides, all these sixties bands didn’t even know who they were at first – weren’t most of them wearing suits before getting into acid trips? If you need further proof, take Sky Saxon’s bearded metamorphosis before he feigned as darling Richie Marsh. A similar fate awaits them.