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Crystal Stilts: In Love With Oblivion (Slumberland) 

In Love With Oblivion comes packaged in sci-fi chiaroscuro: an eclipsed planetoid, a cervical galactic blob and pinprick stars.

The album opens with an ambient collage of burbles that give rise to a pulsing, two-note bass line. Its purpose is to affect the redundant pulsation of B-movie machinery, like an ambiguous panel of flashing lights on a Barbarella set. It is joined by a snare that rattles like a trashcan lid. By the time Brad Hargett's dyspeptic vocals join in, In Love With Oblivion's vocabulary of psychedelic space-cheese and '60s garage is clear.

There are moments of near-perfection: the bright tangle of melody on "Silver Sun," with Hargett buried under Big Star-caliber twang, and the guitar line on "Half a Moon," which buzzes like an angry hornet.

The problem is that Crystal Stilts have really only one idea, articulated 11 different ways over the course of the album. The idea is both nostalgic and cacophonous enough to be charming—but just enough.

"Alien Rivers" takes seven minutes and 18 seconds to remind us about The Doors, though they do throw in bonus chirruping crickets. On "Invisible City," the band chops things into staccato bursts, almost with urgency.

When the band stretches beyond kitsch—like on "Silver Sun"—they justify themselves as something better than the house band at a Cinema Insomnia screening. Otherwise, if you wish that Bauhaus had been inspired by The Sonics, well, here's what that band would sound like.

More by Sean Bottai

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