Crystal Stilts are one of those New York bands that really reinforce the city's well-established post-punk scene. Bands like Interpol, The Strokes, Stellastarr* and many others, that use such a heavy, often moody production in the vein of Joy Divison, The Cure, Bauhaus and the many other 80s bands that influenced so much of the indie music we hear today.

The band's singer Brad Hargett was blessed with a fantastic baritone drawl that is impossible not to compare Ian Curtis and the like. His warm, smoky delivery can add a sinister twist to the Stilts' occasionally dark but sometimes melodic, poppy output. On Nature Noir, the group's third album, much of what we've heard before from their previous albums remains. Stylistically, more so than anything else, the sound that they have crafted for themselves is more vivid than ever.

We open with 'Spirit in Front of Me', a steady rocker and a true foot-stomper, dripping with swagger. The vibe is mellow and the guitars are jangly, instantly showing newcomers and reminding existing fans what the Stilts are all about. The vocals are great and sound like they were recorded in a church, encapsulating Hargett's unaffected, half-arsed singing style.

The album's first single and the next song is 'Star Crawl', which follows in a similar fashion, driven by a nasty crunch of a riff and never wandering too far away from it. Hargett chants "I'm too tired, baby" and you can't disagree with him thanks to his sleepy, druggy delivery. This song is a good example of how the Stilts evoke Wild West imagery in their music, at least in my mind anyway. They sound like they'd be best suited in a saloon somewhere, bathing in a whiskey glow. The post-punk sound is always there, but their ability to take you somewhere else into other territory is why I find them a joy to listen to. They're a band that will make you want to close your eyes, nod your head and groove to their cool "don't give a fuck" groove.

'Future Folklore' picks up the tempo, a nice upbeat rock'n'roll number that takes you by surprise considering the speed of the last two tracks. 'Worlds Gone Weird' has a nice melody but gets stale rather fast. This is one problem with the Stilts: unless you're heavily into this style of music, you won't really want listen to them for hours on end, probably as a result of their linear songwriting. Not in terms of the variety between songs, but more due to the lack of variety within the songs.

The title track is a slow number shrouded in sorrow, with some beautiful little splashes of guitar and a great bridge that teases with some attitude. By this point, the album has brought down the rattle and hum, Velvet Underground feel a notch and opted for a more gentle, softer approach. The closer 'Phases Forever' could almost be described as a ballad, with leanings toward R.E.M.'s more orchestral songs. It's a soothing, effective way to finish the album, another collection from the Crystal Stilts, a band that should carry on crafting their signature brand of dark magic. They remain underground, pretty much out of the public eye, never seeming to break - but the people that know about them will continue to reap the rewards.