Chvrches always leave me with a weird feeling. I look forward to their releases but for one reason or another, when I do listen to them, they somehow fall short of expectations. I’d say it’s in how their music ultimately sounds cold, and doesn’t quite feel evergreen, for lack of a better term. Love Is Dead offers more of the same, for the most part, only now with outside producers – Greg Kurstin and Steve Mac, responsible for some of the biggest pop hits of the past few years – in tow. It’s weird considering the sound didn’t really change much – it still feels mechanical, but with flourishes from those vaguely credible crossover pop hits. A bit of a shame, because the record has some really interesting themes going for it. Much has been said about the reaction towards Lauren Mayberry’s sharper songwriting, and while the record does have its highlights, it tends to disappear into that cold, mechanical mush. Perhaps it’s time for the band to explore their sound further, now that they’ve decided to tackle more difficult themes in a more straightforward manner. Until then, it’ll be a bit difficult for the message to get through. [NB] | 3/5
Hello. Niko here. Our review of the GoodVybes Festival, which took place last Saturday, would be a little different than we envisaged. We planned an essay of observations for the first major (arguably) music festival of 2016. We had a man on the ground: one of our contributing writers, Dexter Tan, bought tickets, making good on his vow to see Chvrches once and for all. And he was there.
I was tricked. “Leave A Trace”, the first single off Every Other Eye, suggests Chvrches have refined their sound for their second album. Now, I did not mind their debut, The Bones of What You Believe, but after two years’ worth of shuffled listens you realize that the album’s tracks sound very much alike: varying degrees of blasts, loosely tied together (for the most part) by Lauren Mayberry’s delivery. “Leave A Trace” hints a bit at a shift towards a more Cocteau Twins-esque sensibility – the same goes for “Down Side Of Me”, located somewhere in the last third – but the album proceeds to steamroll through with more synthpop that will not be lost on the dance floor. Almost more of the same, then. I do suggest a good pair of headphones on this one: it’s clear – well, it’s clear to me, and only just now – that the band specializes in immersive sounds. You get lost in Chvrches by yourself, ideally, but if you can rock it out at some other setting, then good for you. While it is generally a tad mellower than their debut, it still does not stir me as much as I expected. Expectations. [NB] | 3/5
Five tracks into The Bones of What You Believe, the debut record from Scottish synthpoppers Chvrches, I began hearing – and I know i’m exaggerating when I say this – those klaxons that interrupt and arguably destroy your enjoyment of the annual UAAP Cheerdance Competition. That aside, the band’s sound is interesting yet easy to define: think of La Roux, only with a bit more linger and a bit more bombast. The songs are in between lush and whiplash, the way they go boom on you before slowly washing you down as you get used to it. Lauren Mayberry’s vocals (on most of the record, at least) adds to the tug-of-war: angelic at first listen, her voice, on top of the production and the lyrics, suggest something more sinister. It’s all a little restless and perhaps a bit overwhelming, but it’s still an interesting pop record for folks who just can’t seem to sit still. [NB] | 3/5
“Gun” by Chvrches | Yes, by now I am aware that the band’s name is written in all caps, but I am stubborn. Also, this isn’t how I remember Chvrches sounding when I last wrote about them almost a year ago. Granted, it’s almost a year ago, and sounds change, and “The Mother We Share” is aimed squarely at the hipster audience, with its slightly Peter Gabriel-y sensibilities, while “Gun” – recommended, again, by Adrian – is a bit like La Roux, only less rinky-dinky and with more instruments. And with an undeniably not-androgynous, cute-as-a-button vocalist in Lauren Mayberry. (Well, if you’re now going a bit more pop, might as well appeal visually. If only the music video would let me do so. But yeah, Adrian comparing the music video to how Solitaire on Windows PCs look when you win is spot on.) Chvrches is finally releasing an album this September: it’s called The Bones of What You Believe and, I now think, it’s going to full that La Roux-shaped hole in British pop music. [NB] (Have things I should hear? Drop me a line here.)