I wasn’t really sure how to approach a record like this. In this series, I’ve been including things like my personal rating of the record along with how good it sounds (due to pressing quality, wear, mastering etc.). But from time to time, artists end up being more difficult to handle because of their offstage behavior. I have a few records in my collection made by people who either possibly or definitely did some horrible things. I discussed this a bit when I wrote about Michael Jackson, for instance.
With Crystal Castles, it becomes a bit more complicated. I could potentially reason an artist like Michael Jackson because he was young when he was recorded Off the Wall and potentially uncorrupted, and he’s also dead, so there’s that. But the art/artist separation is always one that’s worth questioning, because maybe you shouldn’t make the separation. In fact, in most cases, I’d say you definitely shouldn’t. (You’ll never see me supporting Chris Brown or R. Kelly, for instance.)
But then there’s this. Last year, Alice Glass made a long statement about the long period of abuse she suffered from her partner Ethan Kath. Verbal, physical, sexual. It wasn’t necessarily shocking, because this kind of thing is sadly common. But it’s hard not to get that feeling in the pit of your stomach when you find out how much of a monster someone turns out to be. Even if you don’t know them or frankly have no reason to expect much of anything. (Although after they broke up and before this information came out, he really acted super condescending and dismissive of his former musical partner so I should have expected he was a shitbag.)
Since then, I haven’t listened to this record, but for some reason I still own it. And I think that’s because I think these songs should belong to Alice. She’s performed them live after Crystal Castles’ dissolution. Ethan Kath never gave her the credit she deserved but he also made her life miserable, so I think she should have them and he shouldn’t get the luxury of claiming otherwise.
I’m not sure when I’ll listen to this again—its songs have come up on shuffle and I can certainly still enjoy them, but it’s important not to make excuses when something like this happens. It’s even more important to support the person who’s affected, however, and I’d love nothing more than to see Alice Glass thrive in Crystal Castles’ aftermath.