CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe: Review

CHVRCHES is a name that I’d heard many times, even passing up the fleeting opportunity to see them earlier this year, before I’d actually heard any of their music.  They are a Glaswegian synthpop band, so naturally something I’d quite like.  The trigger for looking them up, and then subsequently downloading their whole debut album The Bones of What You Believe, was a few favourable mentions in Pitchfork’s Top 100 songs of 2013, an annual guide which I always pay close attention to.

CHVRCHES (Photo/The Guardian)

The fact that I downloaded their whole album off of the back of a few listens shows that I liked CHVRCHES.  Listening to the whole thing on its’ own made me consider it as perhaps the best I’ve heard since Passion Pit’s Gossamer in 2012. The two bands are rather similar, with the same cheerful brand of electronic pop, although not afraid to have darker themes to their songs.  Considering Passion Pit are one of my favourites, its high praise indeed.

Lauren Mayberry, the lead singer, has an amazing voice that’s present throughout the album.  Her sweet, innocent and evidently Scottish accent adds to the airy synths and electronic vibe of the album perfectly.

The first three tracks on the album are the best in my opinion, with a higher tempo that I enjoy more, but the entire record is a masterpiece.

The opener “The Mother We Share” is a delightfully happy and uplifting pop song, although its’ lyrics are far from it.  Mayberry’s beautiful voice soars above the synth but also has that hint of sadness that makes the song a beautiful paradox.  The drama and emotion in the song make it my favourite on the album.

“We Sink” has a much quicker vibe, and could almost pass as an EDM song with its pace and dance-friendliness.  “Gun” is another signature song that is beautiful and fun.  Its’ chorus in particular has the potential to be a favourite at festivals and DJ gigs for the band.  The fading outro of the song underlines the great production of the album.

Other tracks on the album tend to be a little slower, but channel the 80s vibe of the likes of New Order and Depeche Mode that has become increasingly popular since M83’s rise to fame in a new and unique way, being great examples of electronic music.  “Lies” has a very obvious influence from Tubeway Army’s “Are ‘Friends’ Electric?” with the imposing synths and sinister feel to the song.  Other than “Lies”, and the darker “Science/Visions” a soft and ethereal sound is present on the other tracks, such as “Lungs” and “By the Throat”.

Mayberry’s beautiful voice takes a back seat on “Under the Tide” and the closer “You Caught the Light”, with Martin Doherty taking over and doing a good job of guiding slower, more orchestral tunes.  The closing track is particularly well arranged, with a distinct ‘Scottish guitar’ (think Big Country) feel on the intro to a song that conveys heartbreak beautifully along with a heavily distorted background synth.

On the whole, CHVRCHES’ debut effort more than shows that they are a band for the future, and is wholly deserving of a listen and a purchase.  I can’t rate it highly enough.  You can listen to The Bones of What You Believe in full via the Spotify playlist below, or buy it on iTunes.

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