Crystal Fighters - Cave Rave
Throwing a BBQ this summer? Well, as your stooped below an umbrella, turning cylindrical tubes of charcoal for house-bound guests in the pissing rain, why not cue this up and fix yourself a large glass of something alcoholic and colourful. For even if it blurts from a polythene bag-protected portable speaker, Crystal Fighters' sophomore will transport even the most po-faced and dejected Limey to a place of untampered beaches, pulsating carnival sound systems and infinite, Day-Glo bliss.
Cave Rave, an album that the band retreated to the remote Basque Hills of Spain to produce, certainly feels, as its name suggests, like an exclusive party on a hot pile of rocks; the kind where everyone's sun-beaten, freaking out and eventually reflective in a youth-defining way. Opener, 'Wave' is, in fact, their most hallucinogenic and fizzy track to date, evoking the sort of trip that might see a vivid, slow-motion crab noshing a Solero and serenading bronzen merrymakers on a uke simultaneously. Aptly, its chorus is in keeping also - washing over like a shore-destined ripple that caresses a shallow-paddling, swimsuit-clad tourist. Although, if this is the record's most sleek and well-groomed beach poser, then highlight 'LA Calling' is far less conscious or cold-blooded. On the contrary, its breezy balearic hooks and package-resort terrace chants have far more in common with the lobstered 18-30, slumped sloppily aboard a deflating blow up crocodile. Not actually as crass and demeaning as this suggests, it ultimately makes you think - who needs the burden of a weighty brain when you've got air in your lungs, heat on your skin and a whopping grin across your chops?
Weather-spoilt imagery aside, their USP has always been their ability to seamlessly coalesce the traditional with the contemporary and their undeterred faithful will be pleased to hear that, in this department, they are more dependable than ever.
Crystal Fighters have also now realised their potential production-wise too, as - in lieu of 'Star Of Love'(s) loveable amateurism - it's follow up is fully-formed; slick, unadulterated fun. They channel their most sugary side on 'You & I', which goes hand-in-hand with 'Plage'(s) syrupy romanticism, before conjuring the climbing disco pop of Jarvis Cocker & Co on 'Separator'. Then the bittersweet 'No Man', with it's scuttling, vaguely Johnny Cash drums, arrives to rouse, juxtaposing with the more brash synths and immediate, bouncy refrain of 'Are We One'. Although, they also discover a penchant for slow builds on the record's quieter moments, which veer, contrastingly, between festival euphoria ('Everywhere') and over-droopy, clean cut balladry ('Bridge Of Bones').
Fortunately, the latter is a minor blip on an otherwise solid listen; a bottle cap in the sand that's rather uncomfortable as it presses into the ball of your foot. Ultimately, though, 'Cave Rave' is more of the same from the band; it is not an album of fierce innovation, but a perfect companion for sizzling meat and endless sunsets.
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