Crystal Fighters Crystal FightersStar Of Love
“I Love London” stood out as the most precious gem on the “Kitsuné Maison Vol. 8” compilation and automatically every half hipster Spaniard and his mum got cocky as, beware, we had a new Spanish band doing well abroad. The confusion –or rather, the imprecision– was due to misinformation and a MySpace page locating Crystal Fighters in Navarra. The joke turned out well for them, at least in Spain, where, because of the imprecision, their fame precedes them wherever they go. The truth is that only the female part of the ensemble –the one that inexplicably never participates in their live gigs– has a Spanish passport, and there’s a lovely story behind all this zanpantzarrak and txalaparta. When the grandfather of one of the band members passed away, he left behind an opera with elements from Basque folklore. The work made such an impression on the lads that they baptised the band with a passage from the piece, listening to Eskorbuto and making mixes like this one.
The Basque paraphernalia drew the attention of the audience, but Crystal Fighters have exploited their strong points brilliantly. I’m referring to their live show, which have been going on for the better part of a year and during which the masses end up exhausted and in ecstasy, thanks to the weird mix of “nu-rave-indie-electro-folk-whatever”. Therefore, “Star Of Love” arrives with its homework completed and ready to hand in: three good previous EPs and a solid stage set-up. This debut album could only have two outcomes: it could either burst the bubble that has been growing all year, or it could confirm this musical trending topic as credible. Had the first outcome been true –and I can already say it is not, not strictly, anyway–, we could still play devil’s advocate by holding on to the schizo rhythm and easy lyrics of “I Love London” (oddly the track that’s most out of character compared to the rest of the album), or by emphasising the good things of “Xtatic Truth”, which are many, including the choral voices of the intro accompanying the progressive climb to the climax, the radical face changes that are repeated in the song, and the lyrics that invite you to get lost in synthetic trance. But it won’t be necessary to use the singles to convince ourselves of the album’s quality. There’s plenty other good things on “Star Of Love”.
Originality surfaces on various occasions, given rise by this “obsession with/passion for” the Basque musical idiosyncrasy that has led them to follow the long road that separates the deepest folklore from the punk tradition of the 20th century, an obsession that has led to a decent knowledge of Spanish music of the eighties, as the aforementioned mix shows. Check out “I Do This Everyday”, a track on which one of the finest assets of the band reaches its highest quote: their mastery of percussion. The metal guitar riff, the distortion of that same guitar, the rhythmic speed and the weirdo folk are a table mat that leave the track so close to System Of A Down it’s scary. On the contrary, “Plage” and “At Home” are appreciable as they’re different from what Crystal Fighters offered up on their singles. Both are friendly songs; the first sounds a little bit like a schoolyard song, but there’s also a bit of rumba in it, as if The Libertines had crossed with Gipsy Kings. “At Home” is an emotive electro-pop song created from the twisted precepts of a band like Yeasayer, appealing to the explosions of happiness, to the pleasantry of being able to hum a long “oooh” followed by a couple of “yays” and the warm pastoral voice of one of the girls (it’s hard to distinguish which one). That said, the only weak point I see is that the girls should be on stage with the band more. With regards to the album, I can only say “¡zorionak, chicos!” (“congratulations, lads!”) with a bravely defended debut.