'Big in America' isn't quite the same as 'Big in Japan' - so when The Crystal Method say that they're big in America, you'd probably best believe them. Despite their lack of success on this side of the pond, the Las Vegas natives (now Los Angeles based) have spent the best part of the last two decades dominating the electronica scene in the USA. Their 1997 debut 'Vegas' is one of the biggest-selling US albums of that genre; they've written songs for movies, TV shows, video games, joggers and probably a new form of media that hasn't even been invented yet. In other words, they're kind of like the American Chemical Brothers.
Which goes some way to explain how Scott Kirkland and Ken Jordan have attracted a host of big names to guest on their fourth album. Peter Hook twangs his bass on the ripping buzz of 'Dirty Thirty' and 'Blunts & Robots', yet both songs are a little underwhelming. Jason Lytle of Grandaddy lends his voice to 'Slipstream', but its heavy permutations are too invasive when coupled with his delicate tones. Elsewhere, uber-producer Jon Brion lends his own synth expertise to the title track, which sounds like an unfinished Daft Punk song that's weighted down with superfluous bleeps and burbles.
It makes sense, then, that the best songs are the ones that are led by strong vocalists: Emily Haines of Metric turns in a sexy, understated performance on 'Come Back Clean', its neat percussion exploding into a feathery burst. Likewise, Jewish rapper Matisyahu's sombre, streetwise intonations on 'Drown in the Now' are surefooted and assertive.
So, just like the Chemical Brothers, The Crystal Method are capable of the odd sterling effort - but just like the Chemical Brothers, they don't know when to reign in the barrage of effects and stop showing off. Sometimes, fellas, less is more.