Thursday, 19 September 2013

Chvrches - The Bones Of What You Believe

Chvrches have had a rather incredible 15-months since they exploded on to the scene with a show at the Art School in Glasgow in July last year (read my review here).

I imagine that the band must be almost relieved that their debut album 'The Bones Of What You Believe' is finally out.

'The Bones Of What You Believe' is a fascinating album, extremely polished pop on the surface, often with darker, menacing undertones. The production is crystal clear, staying clear of the trap that many modern acts fall into - that of over-production. The songs have space to breath, there are hooks galore with synths (lots of them) beats and bass combining in a glorious manner and Lauren Mayberry's vocals are delicious; sweet at times, capable of anger, revenge, hurt and heartfelt emotion at others.

The opening song 'The Mother We Share' is a song that anyone with a remote interest in the band will be familiar with. The 'go-oh-oh-oh-oh-oh' hook in the verses is pure pop, the chorus soars. A truly brilliant start.

'We Sink' is even better (in my opinion). I listened to this 5-times in a row before going on to the next song! Bass-y synths kick things off and the beats come in. There is a menace to Mayberry's vocals;

Bleed out, what the fuck were you thinking?

This is a love song with a difference, the vocal melody is simple, effective and catchy, the lyrics cut like a knife yet also offer hope at the end.

I'll be a thorn in your side
Til you die
I'll be a thorn in your side
For always
If we sink
We lift our love

'Gun' is an exceptional and intelligent modern pop song, changing pace cleverly throughout. Mayberry is on fire with the lyrics and her delivery, this is a girl not to be messed with.

You had better run from me
With everything you own
Cause i am gonna come for you
With all that I have

'Tether' slows things down and if we didn't get the hint from the previous songs then this song is clear proof that 'The Bones Of What We Believe' is a break-up album. There is a stunning break down 2 minutes 9 -seconds in when Mayberry sings;

I'm feeling capable of
Seeing the end
I'm feeling capable of
Saying it's over

Her voice is fragile, sounding sad that things are over. The music then lifts to an all out EDM dance-floor filler, Mayberry repeats the phrase over-and-over as if to convince herself that she can end it. Stunning.

'Lies' is the song that Chvrches (then known as Churches) chose to launch themselves into the world with. The synths are not as pure pop as those in some of the previous songs (think Gary Numan's 'Cars'), they are darker, as are the lyrics.

'Under The Tide' features lead vocals by Martin Doherty. If our heroine has been under some pressure in a relationship and going through a break up, then this is a friend coming to her aid, letting her know she has someone to turn to.

Head up, head up
And stay strong
Holding your head up, head up
Keep holding, holding

'Recover' was released as a single in early 2013, a little teaser after the band were named in the influential BBC Sound of 2013 top 5.

Synths are all over this song yet there is plenty of room for the song to breath. Mayberry, yet again, sings superbly, the lyrics and their delivery fit in perfectly with the music - rising superbly in the section;

I'll give you one more chance
To say we can change or part ways
And you take what you need
And you don't need me

'Night Sky' starts slowly but the chorus instantly reminded me of Ladyhawke - catchy pop.

'Science/Vision' is darker and also more experimental.

'Lungs' is somewhere in between, Mayberry's vocal melody is clever and catchy, somehow squeezing in the vocals to match. This time she's with another girls guy.

How long, 'til you leave her
You should know that
We're alone this time

'By The Throat' returns to theme of a love that is over. Glorious synths explode into action for the chorus

All that's golden is never old
And I won't play fair with you this time
All that's golden is never sold
And I'll be thankful when you let go

'You Caught The Light' brings the album to a close. An extended intro that would fit perfectly into Days of Thunder/Top Gun leaves you wondering if it is an instrumental on first listen. The synths fade to a stark male vocal.

And then it is over.

'The Bones Of What You Believe' is an excellent debut. The first half of the album is particularly strong, containing some sensational pop songs with real depth to them. After a number of listens I did find myself wanting a little more warmth to the production or some guitars, but as the review reads; this is definitely an album worth checking out.

I look forward to seeing Chvrches at the ABC in Glasgow in October to see how they translate live. With a heavy year of touring behind them, Chvrches should be in great form for what is sure to be a warm homecoming.

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