Crystal Fighters are a curious phenomenon of two parts: a combination of traditional Spain and contemporary Britain, Basque-inspired sounds and electronic music, the old conflicting with the new. Both parts unite in the band’s 100% desire to create positive, feel-good party vibes. Their latest album ‘LIGHT+’ doesn’t stray too far from this established template. The London band, who introduced themselves to the world with 2010 debut ‘Star Of Love’, have returned with refreshed focus and a record which rarely struggles to capture the imagination.
The journey to album number five hasn’t exactly been easy. Where the pandemic killed momentum for many bands, it, instead, acted as a blessing in disguise for Crystal Fighters. The band found themselves worn out after a hectic schedule which followed 2019’s ‘Gaia & Friends’. With the world about to shut down, the band members were more than happy to distance themselves on different corners of the globe: singer Seb Pringle on the secluded Caribbean coast of Colombia, band mate Graham Dickson saw out the pandemic in his new American home, while co-writer Gilbert Vierich remained in the UK.
Thankfully, the time apart worked wonders. A new period of creativity was about to commence. By the time Pringle returned to the UK in the summer of 2021, Crystal Fighters were raring to go again, each member bringing forth a flurry of ideas to the table. 60 songs were soon demoed before they’d even entered the studio, the best of which were whittled down to a ten-track record in the ensuing recording sessions. And boy does it sound like they’ve had fun producing it.
“We got hope, we got time, we got fire, we got faith, we got love in hearts every moment!” declares Pringle on glittering opener ‘We Got Hope’. The mantra perfectly illustrates Crystal Fighters’ ideology, the traditional sound soon breaking into a frenetic rave. Then we move onto the upbeat Basque-folk of ‘Carolina’, a track inspired by a girl Pringle fell for during his time in Colombia. The chorus chant of “Carolina, Carolina, Carolina, Carolina, eh-eh / Something’s changing” is as infectious a refrain as you’ll on this record.
Aware of the need to mix things up, the next two songs then possess psychedelic tendencies. The sleepy-riffed ‘Manifest’ might just be Crystal Fighters’ answer to The Mamas & The Papas ‘California Dreamin’’: a hazy ode to travel and warm climate escapism. ‘Multiverse’ goes further, moving us into an ominous, Chemical Brothers-inspired rave for a captivating mid-point detour.
On ‘Love x3’, Crystal Fighters rediscover their sweet tooth. “Gimme that love, love, love / Cause it makеs the world go ’round” sings Pringle – the soaring chorus of this acoustic bop leaving us in no doubt of the band’s positive outlook. While they may stray into guilty pleasure territory here, they then venture into banal pop on ‘End the Suffering’, the record’s most uninspired moment.
All is quickly forgiven by the time breezy second half highlight ‘Tranquilo’ arrives. The word itself is a carefree expression common across the Spanish-speaking world and the band use it to describe the situation they now find themselves. “The time we spent apart mellowed us all out, in a certain way. We’re happier than ever” enthuses Pringe. He continues, “as the album says, more light. More positivity, more clarity. We all need more hope in our lives.”
Just as it says on the tin, brightness reigns supreme on ‘LIGHT+’: a record brimming with positive vibes and tranquilo. Crystal Fighters are feeling happy again, loved up and down for a darn good time. And best of all, we’re all invited to the party.
Words: Matthew Mclister