Crystal Fighters live in a universe where it’s perpetually sunny, the DJs never get tired, and the MDMA is far from wearing off. They holed up in the Basque hills of their native Spain to record the music for their second LP, Cave Rave – a title that perfectly encapsulates their earworm electronica and theatrical tendencies. Every second of the album’s 37-minutes goes straight for the jugular, and the band succeeds wildly in fusing traditional Spanish music with ultra-accessible dance beats. Put simply: Cave Rave boasts some of the flat out catchiest tracks you’ll hear all year, and might just be the party album of the summer.
Crystal Fighters take a page from early Arcade Fire with their bombastic approach to writing pop songs. Tracks like “Separator” and “Are We One” stand 100-stories high, and sound like they’re meant to be performed either at Madison Square Garden or from atop a the highest peak of the Pyrenees. But thankfully the songs on Cave Rave don’t take themselves as seriously as anything Win Butler has ever written; Butler himself even has occasional trouble pulling off that sort of earnestness.
The lyrics tend to mirror Phoenix (Wolfgang Amadeus Phoenix a sonic touchpoint here), not necessarily in content, but in the starry-eyed simplicity that could probably only come from someone who learned English as a second language. Lines like “In the galaxy of truth, the stars are your eyes,” don’t really give you much to think about, but that’s perfectly fine — these are songs for the feet, not the head. “Love Natural” is a fantastic example of this, and it is also the album’s most irresistible banger, with a chorus so sweet it’ll have you wearing out your dancing shoes upon repeated listens.
But ultimately it’s their underlying acoustic, Spanish flavor that sets Crystal Fighters apart from the other bubbly synth-pop acts on the market today. Cave Rave serves as proof that staying true to your roots can not only pay off, but also be a hell of a good time.
Essential Tracks: “You & I,” “LA Calling,” “Love Natural”