With The Chemical Brothers on a hiatus, The Prodigy still in the studio and Underworld focusing on their solo careers, Las Vegas duo Ken Jordan and Scott Kirkland, aka The Crystal Method, now become the first act from the mid-90s original EDM boom to release a record in the second with their long-awaited self-titled comeback.
Sadly, the follow-up to 2009’s Divided By Night suggests that the speaker-blasting pioneers are no longer interested in pushing any boundaries. Indeed, with the exception of a few collaborations which border on the absurd, The Crystal Method is a strangely anonymous affair which largely resorts to the kind of belching brostep with which their natural successor Skrillex has been terrorising audiences during their absence.
In fact only “Over It,” a cinematic slice of dubstep featuring the enchanting vocals of The Voice’s inaugural runner-up Dia Frampton, leaves any lasting impression on a first half dominated by a similarly formulaic blend of 8-bit bleeps, grinding synths and robotic beats, leaving you wondering just what exactly guest DJs Le Castle Vania (“Storm The Castle”) and Nick Thayer (“Dosimeter”) brought to the table.
The familiar country twang of Leann Rimes certainly leaves its mark on “Grace,” a simply baffling fusion of high-pitched whirring, melancholic harp and muted synth-pop beats which will surely go down as one of 2014’s most unlikely hook-ups. The rough-and-ready tones of former Scars on Broadway guitarist Franky Perez on the space-age electro-funk of “Difference” also gives The Crystal Method a certain WTF? appeal, while “After Hours,” an aptly-named ambient chillout number featuring Miami duo Afrobeta, also hints at what could have been.
But overall, The Crystal Method is a predictable and disappointingly bandwagon-jumping return which instead of challenging the current EDM scene, suggests the pair are now content to merely play catch-up.