ALL THAT’S GOLDEN IS NEVER REAL
Chvrches’ ‘The Mother We Share’ was one of the best songs of 2012 – even if it were put on a wider spectrum that includes acts beyond just other similarly fresh-faced acts. The tracks that followed it – ‘Recover’, ‘Lies’, ‘Guns’ – weren’t as confident in heralding the Scottish synthpop trio as a breakthrough act, and the Recover EP wasn’t impressive enough. This might read like they were portending some kind of disappointment, but in reality JUICE was glad that our expectations were tampered before coming into the band’s debut The Bones of What You Believe – it’s every bit as good as we believed.
Opening with the aforementioned track, the LP isn’t trying to lull you into immediately liking it by giving us an established, year-old single first. Instead its placement shows the band’s utter confidence in the tracks that come after it. And boy, do they deliver almost on all fronts. Main vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s vocals, gossamer in weight as they are, soar as much on ‘Tether’ and ‘Lies’ with the same kaleidoscope of emotions displayed previously – she’s got the kind of voice that reeks of emotional ambiguity despite its limited range.
Fragility, empowerment, nonchalance, contentment, whichever feeling the song requests of her, are all channelled over ‘80s throwback synths that owe its sound to the likes of UK greats like Depeche Mode, Yazoo, and New Order, which is made more obvious on tracks fronted by multi-instrumentalist, sometimes vocalist Martin Doherty (‘You Caught the Light’ is a highlight).
If there were misses on this album, it’s that Doherty’s voice doesn’t always work (‘Under the Tide’) and that their ambition to be more than just pop get into the way of good song selection (such as the dark techno of ‘Science/Visions’). Fortunately, tracks like ‘Lungs’ will remind you again that Chvrches is a band built in the same mould as Passion Pit; danceable rock fit for music festivals.
LISTEN TO: ‘You Caught the Light’
IF YOU LIKE THIS YOU’LL DIG: Lorde, Purity Ring