Crystal Fighters - Star of Love
Dominic Valvona 04/09/2010
The opening galloping Balearic fuelled beats, cooing whispered female voices, modulating cyclonic synth and Euro-pop gestures of the lead-in track 'Solar System', lead me to question just what it is that I'm actually listening to.
Blending Klaxons style - now rather old-hat - nu-rave with grand sweeps of Spanish arena anthem pop, traditional Basque country instruments and folk plus liberal doses of CSS; Crystal Fighters sound like a right old mesh-mash of competing influences.
This intrepid five-piece of Spaniards, Americans and English are attempting to bring a more up-dated production to the 80s music that they feel an aspiring affinity towards, namely the “Anti-todo” proto-punk scene, which was favoured by and named by the leading controversial activist group Eskorbuto, who sought to give a voice to the Basque cause and drop in references to the fight for independence from the Spanish government alongside crude lyrics, whilst also taking a snide pop at some of their fellow compatriots - they're considered one of Spain's most seminal and tragic punk bands with two of the founding members dieing from their addiction to heroin.
Along with this feverent backed music, they also throw in a number of authentic arcane instruments borne from the traditions and ceremonies unique to the Basque region.
Instruments like the Txalaparta, a wooden contraption first used to make cider with and distinct for its trotting horse sound, the Txistu, a pipe whistle, and a rope tuned snare drum, all provide a hint of the old country. Even the group's name is imbued with the history of this western Pyrenees collection of states, the moniker deriving from the title of band member Laure's deceased grandfather's unfulfilled surrealist opera, based on the myth of this province.
At first Crystal Fighters' overall purview of sound confounded me - was I hearing something new?
Well no, I wasn't. In fact most of the elements on display here are wholly spent forces, it's just the way in which they're all drawn together that makes it sound promising and fresh.
Essentially its pop music with songs such as the long way from home ode 'Champion Song', the Ibiza folk smattered 'Plague' and the Erasure-esque dance number 'At Home', all meandering down the path of breezy, bright summer commercialised dance directed hits - nothing wrong with that.
At times they break out some of the harder stuff, laying down some dub-step here, 'Swallow', and moody MIA fashioned electro soundclash there, 'I Love London'. There's even an unadulterated use of machine gun chuggering rock guitar, the sort favoured by Bonde Do Role, on the rhetorical chanting and rollicking hi-octane fun of 'I Do This Everyday'.
Star Of Love is a curious proposition. On the one hand you have to admire the way they weave such a myriad of styles together, yet on the other hand they sound almost dated - 'I love London' for instance is already 2-years old, though it wasn't properly released until the last year. Their use of the already mentioned nu-rave shtick and Brazilian style electro both arrive three years too late, though they must be given credit for introducing a post-modern slice of folklore and post-punk to the mix.
Release date: 13/09/2010