I love the effortless ones—the songs that just lay themselves out there and do their thing, so securely and easily that there’s almost nothing to talk about. “Crystalline” is one of those.
Okay, but I’ll talk a little.
A lot of the power here comes, I think, from the delayed melody. In both the verse and the chorus, the melodic line begins after two beats go by. In the verse, this allows the scene to be set by a weighty, unhurried guitar chord, even as the rhythmic backbone of the song remains fleet and itchy. So there’s this built-in juxtaposition here between the purposeful rhythm and the thoughtful melody. In the chorus, the melodic delay is augmented by an instrumental countermelody (first heard at 0:54) that gives the song a subtle grandeur. And yet Vallance at the same time seems to be playing with some vocal distortion here, which lends an edge to the sound. In this case the juxtaposition becomes its own potent amalgam: edgy grandeur.
Vallance was born in London and lives and works now in Brooklyn. “Crystalline” is the lead track from his second album, Volcano, which arrives next month on Proof Records.