CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe (Album Review)
First things first, let me just admit it. If I didn’t you’d all be thinking it, and I’d feel guilty for not telling you. I have an overwhelming and incapacitating love for Lauren Mayberry, the gorgeous lead-singer of the group (pictured above). I’ll make every attempt not to let it affect this review, but I can’t promise anything. Jesus, she’s so cute.
CHVRCHES, hailing from scotland, blend a weird mix of dreamy yet forceful vocals with processed drum-machine percussion, synthesiser melodies, and experimental audio ‘meat.’ Can I call it meat? I want to say content, but it’s more than that. It’s chunky. It’s driving. There’s something very tactile about the whole album, and it’s a lovely listening experience.
First track’s a killer. ‘The Mother We Share’ is archetypal of the Chvrches sound; a melody made from pitched cuts of Lauren’s voice, warm and distorted pads, and some M83-esque ‘yells’ from the band’s music machinists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty. Tracks like ‘We Sink’ and ‘Under the Tide’ pin arpeggiated melodies with chorused vocals and some pretty damn catchy hooks, resulting in emotive sing-along tracks. That’s a pretty common thing on this album (although, perhaps not on purpose): it’s really easy to sing along to. I can’t begin to parallel Mayberry’s slightly aloof yet exciting voice, but I sure as hell try, in the car, or when nobody else is around. ‘Recover,’ one of the more energetic songs on the album (alongside ‘Lungs’), likens a breakup to one of those folded envelope-things that we all played with as kids. It’s cute, lyrically and musically. ‘Gun,’ a favourite of mine, has a strange twinkly screeching melody, paired with rolling bass that reminds me of Gesaffelstein (but far lighter), and some pretty interesting lyrics. Lauren is very vocally anti-misogynist (in interviews), and I think a little of that comes through in the lyrics of ‘Gun,’ although perhaps it’s purely about love and hatred and revenge, and I’m just bad at emotions.
Speaking of being emotionally incompetent, ‘Science/Visions’ knocks me out, big time. I don’t know what to feel, but I feel good. I can’t for the life of me tell what it’s about, but the lyrics are exceptional (“When you are truly yourself, you will succumb to a permanence”) and the track is inspiring, in a pensive and decidedly dramatic way. I feel like this track is the evolution of ZVVL, a fantastic and minimal track from their previous EP. Existential lyrics, ambiguous excitement, and stripped-back musical composition, all serving to leave you languid and mentally stimulated.
There are some disappointing features, greatly outweighed by the rest of the album, but still apparent. ‘You Caught the Light,’ another track that reminds me a lot of M83, sports weak and uninspired vocals from the male counterparts of the group. It works when M83 does it; not so much here. It’s still a listenable track, but just seems empty. What can I say, I prefer Lauren. A note about Lauren: When she says ‘Fuck,’ you’re going to swoon. She’s petite and lithe and there’s something very satisfying about hearing her say a curse word. Watch out for that. I think it happens twice.
Overall, The Bones of What You Believe is an album packed with good, well-crafted songs, with minimal filler and a congruous yet varied sound. Something tells me Chvrches are going to be around for quite a while.
A light 8 out of 10.
Stream the album on Spotify, or buy it on iTunes.
Visit CHVRCHES’ Official website, or talk to them on Facebook (they reply to almost everything).