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Chvrches - The Bones of What You Believe (Review)

Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 3 out of 5

IN little more than 12 months Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches have come out of nowhere to be one of the most hotly-tipped bands of 2013.

After posting their first song, Lies, online last spring, they went on to earn a place in the top five of the BBC Sound of 2013, sell out headline tours in the UK and US, make a triumphant, award-winning appearance at SXSW and play a string of stadium dates with Depeche Mode, to name but a few.

Now they look to deliver on that promise with debut album The Bones of What You Believe and go some way towards justifying the buzz surrounding them.

Their particular brand of synth-pop is bombastic, to say the least. The synths are brash, quite often ’80s-leaning, yet their lyrics have punch and are quite often enlivened by the ethereal tones struck by lead songstress Lauren Mayberry (tapping into the style of Robyn at several points).

Admittedly, the formula remains pretty rigid throughout and, over the course of a whole album, it threatens to become a little stretched (and dated, if you find the whole ’80s revival a little hard to grasp).

But when they get it right, Chvrches have some pretty decent anthems in their armoury.

Album opener The Mother We Share, for instance, immediately comes alive with echoed ‘ohs’ and ‘ahs’, some throbbing synth stabs and a slick mix of cute and gritty that quickly endears.

But it’s followed by the even better and utterly propulsive We Sink, which finds Lauren asking “what the fuck were you thinking?” in no-nonsense fashion, before declaring: “I’ll be the thorn in your side, til you die.” It’s when they add this rebellious edge to their polished synth-pop that Chvrches are at their most potent.

Similarly, Lies clobbers you with an almighty synth arrangement, a Robyn-esque vocal and a striking chorus that declares “I can sell you lies, you can’t get enough” and “I can feed your dirty mind”. Way to go…

Recover also stands out thanks to a blistering chorus, while there’s a nice change of pace on Lungs that is part sexy, part moody and addictively good. By reigning themselves in a little sonically, they can also make a good impression.

If the remainder of the album doesn’t always match its finest moments (and quite often feels as though it should belong on an ’80s soundtrack album), then there are still pockets of enjoyment to be found… guilty pleasures more than killer moments.

But overall, Chvrches do just enough to maintain their momentum and further enhance their burgeoning reputations. The Bones of What You Believe is an enjoyable enough ride.

Download picks: We Sink, Lies, Recover, Lungs, You Caught The Light

Track listing:

  1. The Mother We Share
  2. We Sink
  3. Gun
  4. Tether
  5. Lies
  6. Under the Tide
  7. Recover
  8. Night Sky
  9. Science/Visions
  10. Lungs
  11. By the Throat
  12. You Caught the Light