Glasgow, Scotland’s synthy, electro-pop trio CHVRCHES have received more than their fair share of hype during the past year. But it’s all very well-deserved, and even well-earned, as the band has been keeping super busy, working the press and, more importantly, bringing their music to audiences everywhere between playing festivals like SXSW and touring as the opening act for artists such as Depeche Mode and Passion Pit. Oh, and they also released an EP called Recover that the internet went *wild* for. You couldn’t count how many blogs gave it a gleaming review. But, again, it was well-deserved, as the songs on the EP are nothing short of wonderful, the two best tracks, “Recover” and “Gun,” also appearing here on their full-length debut album, The Bones of What You Believe.
If you’ve listened to artists like Grimes and Crystal Castles and wished they were more pop and less quirky then you should be delighted by the material on this album. These are perfectly-structured pop songs that are immediately accessible, though some more so than others, making it an album you should love from the very first time you play it.
At their core, the songs here are very basic pop songs, but the band elevates them to a much higher caliber in a couple of ways that work wonders for them. First of all, the production is awe-inspiring. Layers and layers of synth and other assorted keyboards wash over you like ocean waves on a warm summer day, immediately brightening your mood. Secondly, lead singer Lauren Mayberry is one of the best pop vocalists to come around in a long time. Her vocals are usually sweet and sugary, but she often changes her tone, giving the different songs various vibes that compliment the lyrics. Not that any of these songs are particularly deep. “Gun” is probably the darkest song and that’s not even about a real gun; Mayberry calls herself a gun, singing, “I’m gonna come for you.” It’s basically a song about getting revenge on a cheater or backstabber. But, hey, does candied synth pop really have to get any deeper than that? I think not. Not when the songs are as catchy as CHVRCHES’ fine confections.
This trio takes the synth pop formula, embraces it and runs with it and they never fail to win the race. Not once. There truly isn’t a bad song on The Bones of What You Believe. Highlights include the uber-upbeat opener “The Mother We Share,” the U2-esque “Lies,” the new wave-flavored “Night Sky” and the punchy “Under The Tide,” the latter of which one of the guys sings.
Listening to the brutal break up ballad “Tether,” one gets the feeling this is what Paramore would sound like if they stopped doing rock and did a synth pop album. To that end, Lauren’s vocals are much like those of Paramore frontwoman Hayley Williams. Lauren’s are generally a bit sweeter, but they sound similar enough that you might wonder if they were twins separated at birth.
The Bones of What You Believe isn’t an album that anybody is going to call ground-breaking. They’re not smashing any molds or reinventing the synth pop genre here. But they’re doing it considerably better than most of their peers and Lauren’s voice is as addictive as Starbucks’ Frappuccinos. One taste and you’re hooked for life. Seriously, give it one listen and you’ll immediately want to give it another as soon as it’s done. If you sit there and dissect it to death then you could probably convince yourself that it’s not edgy or artsy enough but there are plenty of other artists like Lykke Li, Grimes and The Knife if that’s what you’re looking for. Just come to CHVRCHES house of worship looking to adore pop that’s intended to put a big smile on your face and give you something lively to bounce around to.