Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave (Review)
Review by Jack Foley
LONDON-based Spanish sextet Crystal Fighters deliver sophomore LP Cave Rave and successfully broaden their sound.
Written in the Basque hills – a region integral to Crystal Fighters’ sound and the inspiration for their first album Star Of Love – the album was then recorded in Los Angeles with Grammy nominated producer Justin Meldal-Johnsen (Beck/Air/M83) and the influences widened to lend the album broader appeal.
Hence, the beating hearts of Hispanic and African dance and Mexican electronic music 3bal now sit alongside the folk and psychedelia that defined their first album. There’s a bigger sense of euphoria too.
Opening track Wave sets the tone for the record, emerging as a sweeping, grandiose anthem about unity and togetherness (complete with the sounds of the sea), while LA Calling reflects the band’s experience of recording in that city, yet also draws on the African percussive and guitar elements that are new to their sound.
When they sing that “they’re feeling on top of the game” and “sitting on top of the world”, this newfound positivity and vibrancy is infectious. The drum arrangements and chanting works too.
Indeed, it’s another change that Crystal Fighters do actually now sing, rather than offering up fragmented vocals. Sebastian Pringle here fulfils those duties and acquits himself well, especially on the deliriously feel-good ode to love that is You & I, or the album’s centrepiece Bridge of Bones, which washes over you in waves and lays claim to a stadium filling sound befitting bigger bands.
Early on, that track opens amid sparse piano chords and a soulful set of vocals, before adding a quasi-gospel backdrop and an almost folk-rock sound akin to Give Out But Don’t Give Up-era Primal Scream. It’s a feel-good moment par excellence and one that feels ripe for a soundtrack pick-up, or even a sports montage over the summer.
Lyrically, there’s intelligence to offset the electro-pop elements, giving the album a more thought-provoking edge than some of the easy-going sounds initially suggest. For nestling amid the electronics, guitars and beats are contemplations on philosophy, anthropology, time travel, spirituality and religion, which never manages to sound too pretentious.
Put together, this is a great progression for Crystal Fighters and a really satisfying listen.
Download picks: Wave, LA Calling, You & I, Bridge of Bones, Everywhere