Crystal Fighters’ first launched into the ears of audiences with their highly experimental debut Star of Love; an album that was brimming with variety, but at the sacrifice of a coherent sound. With their new album Cave Rave, the band appears to have discovered a significant direction while still showing that there is room for improvement and progression with this. The sheer volume of influences and genres covered by their debut has been honed down, while still retaining those elements which make them unique.
Opener ‘Wave’ introduces the listener to the epic sound attempting to dominate the entire album: electronically impatient, the song is overwhelmingly concerned with wrapping up elements of massive proportions into one collective outburst. The scale of this record is shamelessly apparent within its lyrics (“Thousand universes from the mind of one”) and tone; with rumbling distorted synth layered alongside furious percussion and star-bright keyboard. Whereas second track ‘You & I’ serves as a dramatic contrast to its predecessor, with a much more naturalistic and relaxed approach to song-writing. A more focused and intimate experience with much less excursion, the single still manages to uphold the same grandiose tone as ‘Wave’.
Third track ‘L.A Calling’ slides in with a very slick electric guitar entrance, paving the way for a modern twist upon the Fighters signature traditional Spanish Basque roots, by combining this cosmopolitan shift with Latino percussion and backing vocals. Having such a demanding and all-encompassing track as this is unsurprising, as the group are clearly monopolising on their impressive live presence. Next track ‘Separator’ showcases Sebastian’s unique vocal tone, seemingly inspired by a punk-like American drawl infused with an exotic Spanish finish; this vocal style fuses harmoniously with the song’s satisfying rock dimensions, which in turn clash with an undeniably electronic dance vibe.
The two tracks that really stand out within the album’s second half are ‘Bridge of Bones’ and ‘Love Natural’, each for systematically different reasons. Proving to be an upbeat complimentary combination of keyboard and percussion, ‘Love Natural’ stands out with its sinfully intoxicating western European chorus. Whereas ‘Bridge of Bones’ originates from humble beginnings, with a stripped down vocal spotlight and piano accompaniment. The use of rise and fall in Sebastian’s voice paints the emotional canvas with a distant sense of isolation and melancholy, which flows subtly with the gentle rhythms and electronic aspects. However the end does, unfortunately, drag ever so slightly, with the length feeling needless and marring an otherwise excellent song. In fact, the final song ‘Everywhere’ also suffers from repetition within its outro sequence, making the album’s ending a little lack lustre.
In essence, Cave Rave is innovative yet traditional, influential yet influenced, panoramic yet intimate, experimental yet also driven. It is clear that this was and is an ambitious project for Crystal Fighters; after all, trying to focus their many artistic elements into one holistic record is no easy task and for the most part they succeed. I’m entirely convinced Cave Rave is one of those albums designed to grow on me, yet there are still parts that underwhelm, revealing that although Crystal Fighters have achieved much, excitingly, their quest is not over.