Tuesday, February 21, 2017
Album Review: Crystal Fairy - Crystal Fairy
Supergroups are an easy way to gain attention when starting out a new project. Aside from the mixing of fan-bases that each member will bring in, there is an increased level of buzz generated in the media for a band with members that are already known. It's an easier story to write, as opposed to a wholly original group with no established history to fall back on. Of course, that all depends on the members being well-known enough to create that self-sufficient attention. In the case of Crystal Fairy, while these people are certainly well-known among a certain stripe of music fans, I cannot lay any claim to being familiar with any of their previous work. So you will see no Mars Volta or Melvins references here. I am doing the rare thing and walking into a supergroup completely blind to their history.
What Crystal Fairy is all about is gritty rock and roll. There's a dirty edge to the rumbling guitars that makes this album sound like a product of the underground, even if it really isn't. There is very much a DIY aesthetic to the tones that are chosen, which makes this sound more like a project a few friends threw together in their garage, as opposed to a band aiming to make a quick buck on the touring circuit. That's a very good thing.
I quite enjoy the mix of Teri Gender Bender's voice against the heavy crunch the music provides. I might not have thought about such a voice fronting a band with this particular style, but that uniqueness is one of the best things Crystal Fairy has going for them. They don't sound like much else out there.
The problem, however, is that while Crystal Fairy has a likeable sound, they don't necessarily have the songs to back it up. The opening "Chiseler" has a solid groove to it, and "Drugs On The Bus" pounds like a sledgehammer, but there isn't enough sinew to the songwriting to tie the pieces together. The vocals might be an interesting choice, but they don't do anything interesting. Now I realize that this isn't supposed to be pop music, but when the band drifts into more stoner rock sensibilities, there needs to be some sort of melody coming through to give the listener something to remember. For all of the guitar talent that Crystal Fairy boasts, the riffs don't often hit that sweet spot where they are memorable on their own.
The best songs here are the ones that keep the tempos moving along at a reasonable clip. It's easy when playing this kind of music to let everything slow to a crawl, and when Crystal Fairy does, the songs bog down in tedium. Perhaps I just don't understand that kind of influence, or I haven't been properly influenced for it, but it is not appealing in the least.
So what to make of Crystal Fairy? Well, my honest answer is that they are a band that is doing something right, and something wrong. They have a sound that is fresh enough, and has something appealing about it. However, they also have songs that don't feel vibrant and vital. They are, at this point, more an idea than a working entity. There is a hint of a great band in here, but this is step one on the road to that point. It's interesting, but not quite there yet.