Wednesday 18 September 2013

CHVRCHES - The Bones Of What You Believe

Glasgow may be more famous for its rock and indie bands, but this year it's CHVRCHES who are putting the city on the musical map.  And they're doing so with the essential electro-pop album of 2013.

With four singles from the album previously released, the trio's sound will already be familiar.  What makes their music so effective is the age old pop balance of melancholy and ecstasy.  The production fizzes with neon synths, infectious beats and bright melodies, but lyrically the album is full of heartbreak, sadness and menace - a combination that is intrinsic to much Scandinavian electro from the likes of Robyn and The Knife.  The chorus lyric of debut single The Mother We Share contrasts with the shimmering synths and vocal hook, whilst on Gun singer Lauren Mayberry taunts "I will be a gun and it's you I'll come for" above production that positively sparkles.

This central juxtaposition is embodied by Mayberry's vocal.  Girlish and sweet, there are similarities with the likes of Grimes and Purity Ring's Megan James, yet there's a great sense of emotional weight owing to the lyrical content: from spiteful heartbreak on We Sink, to heartbreaking fragility on Recover.  Mayberry is CHVRCHES not-so-secret weapon, elevating the trio above the competition.  Those tracks that focus instead on male vocals are less remarkable.

That said, there is simply not a bad track on 'The Bones Of What You Believe'.  The singles may stand out for their familiarity, but other tracks explore new directions: the 80s action film feel of Science/Visions with touches of Daft Punk's Tron soundtrack, or atmospheric closer You Caught The Light.  What the trio do best, though, are big, punchy, immediate pop tracks and there are plenty here.  This is a confident debut of a consistently high quality and one of the finest pop albums of the year.


Gizzle's Choice:
* The Mother We Share
* Gun
* Night Sky

Listen: 'The Bones Of What You Believe' is released on 23rd September.

Watch: CHVRCHES have a number of UK gigs in October.