Besides the inconvenient spelling of their name, Chvrches (CHVRCHES) are as appealing to the mainstream as they are to an indie crowd. The lush synth pop compositions and high quality production are perfectly executed with dance beats and rhythms on this must listen debut album.
The Scottish trio is fronted by dynamic songstress, Lauren Mayberry, and her voice and pop song writing skills are what immediately jumps out to the listener on almost every track. The opener, The Mother We Share, starts off with a beautiful melody of catchy synths, electronic percussion, and an array of vocal samples. Each compliments the other sound and form what may be the most poppy song I’ve heard all of 2013. Much like on the first song, We Sink is a continuation of the poppy and melodic tone backed with Laurens unique vocals. Although I must say that unlike the opening track, We Sink is not really a focused effort at a pop sound, but more of a way of creating a textured synth landscape. The track Gun is definitely more compact with bright samples and looping synths and it features a more percussive element that meshes in with an arpeggio from the lead synth. The lyrics here are honed into the “concept” of the album, which is how making this album affected Lauren’s feelings and emotions.
However, the entire album isn’t all masterfully composed synth pop music, there are a couple of songs which are not up to par with the singles and the lead tracks as far as pop music goes. Songs like Tether and Under the Tide don’t necessarily sound bad, but they don’t have the same epic pop feeling and memorable tune that the other tracks have. Instead, these songs are focused on creating an electronic painting in a style similar to Bob Ross. Basically, the technique is using ordinary and common skills/tools and creating something beautiful. Recovery is the other major single released and what stands out on this track is chorus which has two parts and both parts of the chorus are at least twice as long as the verses on the song. Passion is an emphasis in Lauren’s vocals throughout this album and on this song they are also very prominent and make the song have a sense of urgency. She always makes sure her delivery changes from each song and that makes CHVRCHES instantly stick in your memory, and in your CD player.
Night Sky was honestly the last song on this album which had a lasting impact on me, and it was the first time on the album in which I enjoyed the male vocalist (this time he was on backing vocals). Night Sky seems riveting and on its edge compared to the rest of the tracks and definitely benefits from being on the second half of the album which has more lack luster songs on it. Examples of lack luster songs include Lungs and the closer, You Caught the Light. They seem to have extra material on this LP which makes the album drag on when it could’ve been excluded and reorganized to be put on an EP. Although I was disappointed in a couple of tracks on this LP, I found that the songs which were joyfully poppy and upbeat were hands down the best pop songs of the year. And for those songs alone I recommend to listen to this unique take on synth pop.
Focus Tracks- 1.The Mother We Share, 7. Recovery, 8. Night Sky, 2 We Sink. , 3. Gun
Sounds like Passion Pit, M83, Purity Ring
Reviewed by Thomas Orlando