Since Alice Glass left Crystal Castles back in October 2014, fans have been foaming at the mouth for a solo release. Other than loosie ‘STILLBIRTH’, Glass has been conspicuously quiet since then, whilst her former band have managed to find a new vocalist, release a new album and tour extensively. Now, almost three years after initially departing, she’s anything but quiet on her first solo EP.
Produced by former HEALTH member, Jupiter Keyes, the EP starts accessible and slowly descends into chaos over its six tracks. Lead single and opener ‘Without Love’ is a Sidewalks and Skeletons-esque witch house banger with a lot of catchy pop sensibility. What’s immediately notable from this first track is how much clearer Glass’ voice compared to her work with Crystal Castles. There’s still some processing, but it’s a lot more subtle compared to songs like ‘Alice Practice’ and ‘Baptism’, with a Grimes-like sheen helping the vocals to simultaneously float above everything but still cut through in the mix.
Next track ‘Forgiveness’ is a dancefloor banger with a driving kick and Gessafelstein-like hard synth riffs. Any self respecting goth or witch house night needs to get this into rotation ASAP and it stands out as the best track on a consistently great release.
Things get a lot more wild and loose on ‘Natural Selection’ with the production being all over the place in the best possible way. Bursts of atonal noise and distortion are followed by complete silence, only for Alice’s more heavily processed screams of “GET THE FUCK OFF OF ME!” to once again split the space.
‘White Lies’ and ‘Blood Oath’ both effectively combine the chaotic production of ‘Natural Selection’ with the catchiness of ‘Without Love’. The Grimes similarities don’t stop at the vocals as the latter makes similar use of vocal samples and bounces along with an intensity comparable to tracks from Art Angels. The EP ends with the relatively light ‘The Altar’ which puts Glass’ voice in the forefront with subtle synth pads the only accompaniment. Finishing the EP so sombrely seems like a misstep at first, but the song foregrounds Glass’ voice in a way that asserts her as the star of the project and teases what could be possible in the future for her as a solo artist.
This release definitely has a place among the best EP’s of the last couple of years like Charli XCX’s Vroom Vroom and FKA twigs’ M3LL155X. Glass seems to have found an as good, if not better, musical collaborator in Jupiter Keyes and if she can maintain the quality going into her debut album then there’s every reason to be excited for the future of Glass’ solo career.
Words by Jack Hollis