(Alice Glass and Ethan Kath 2014, Photo Credit- Matt Salacuse)
In October 2014 Alice Glass, one half of Crystal Castles, called it quits on the band and departed due to “personal and professional” reasons. Forward to August 2016 and Crystal Castles just dropped their fourth album Amnesty (I). But what exactly is this Crystal Castles sans Miss Glass and can they still call themselves Crystal Castles when Ethan Kath is the only remaining founding half left with Glass being replaced by newcomer Edith Frances?
Glass, who started Crystal Castles with Kath when she was 16, published the following post on her Facebook page in 2014 stating "My art and my self-expression in any form has always been an attempt towards sincerity, honesty, and empathy for others. For a multitude of reasons both professional and personal I no longer feel that this is possible within Crystal Castles. Although this is the end of the band, I hope my fans will embrace me as a solo artist in the same way they have embraced Crystal Castles”. In an interview with NME in April this year she said “For the majority of my career I was conflicted. I would go onstage and show this aggressive, angry side of myself. It was an expression of my frustration and desperation. It was a way for me to communicate what I was going through without having to explain anything offstage, because I didn't want to be seen as vulnerable. It was a way to be confrontational when in my personal life I felt like my feelings weren't respected. It was deeply miserable.”
It was reported by the band manager immediately after her Facebook post went viral that the band would not end and in fact continue. But what exactly makes the band the band with one half gone? There has been evident tension between Glass and Kath over recent months with some twitter posts firing back and forth about musical integrity, ownership, commitment and respect.
Kath replaced Glass with Edith Frances, and together they have released this new album but fans aren’t really happy and they haven’t had the best track record of shows over recent months with fans saying they are essentially just playing a DJ set with Frances standing up front like a doll. If you ask me, she just looks, and sounds, like she is trying to directly replace Glass with all the aggression, attitude, quirks and charisma she bought to the band. On the other hand I feel for Frances trying to step into that role. What else should she do with fans wanting what they grew up loving only to be disappointed by the lack of Glass?
(Edith Frances and Ethan Kath 2016, Photo Credit- Jenn Five)
It’s not the first time we’ve seen a change like this in a band. Queen kept going after Freddie Mercury died as did the Doors after Jim Morrison’s death. “The Beach Boys” and “Village People” (notice the inverted commas) tour now with only one original member. More recently Bloc party dropped down to two of the four founding members before they released their latest album Hymns but kept the band name going.
Personally I think Crystal Castles the name should be laid to rest and this new project of Kath’s should be aptly renamed to keep the integrity of his work with Glass as is. He should allow time to build up his work with Frances into something great under a different alias at least out of respect for both Glass and Frances.
“Crystal Castles” are set to play Clockenflap in November later this year. Seems they can be seen or missed, completely up to you. They may surprise us but will surely provide a good dance set at the very least.