Album Review: The Bones Of What You Believe, Chvrches

Having “discovered” Chvrches back in January 2013 (when they placed fifth in the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2013’ poll, alongside a cluster of similarly talented breakthrough artists such as Haim and AlunaGeorge), trust me when I proclaim that the trio’s debut album has been long-awaited and much anticipated.

shareImageTeasing listeners with such vibrant releases as ‘The Mother We Share’ and ‘Recover’, Chvrches promised electro-pop at its finest: arousing, zingy and multi-faceted. And boy, have they made good on that promise: The Bones of What You Believe is alarmingly assured for a debut album. ’80s synth lines and infectious hooks are laced with the darker undertones of lyrics such as “I will be a gun / and it’s you I’ll come for”. Equally, frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s voice perfectly accompanies this dichotomy: at once childlike and playful, yet hauntingly ethereal.

Each track defies and transcends one’s expectations, beginning as if building to a frenetic climax, before U-turning into something more restrained and introspective. Particularly notable in this regard is ‘Tether’, which swells and dips in volume and refrain in such dramatic fashion that one virtually has to check that the track is still playing. Similarly trance-like and pensive is ‘Night Sky’, which effervesces with a quiet intensity.

This makes for an interestingly diverse and re-playable album that suits a variety of moods and tones. I could just as easily find myself jumping up and down to ‘Lies’ at a festival or club, as I could let the atmospheric  and hypnotic ‘Under the Tide’ – in which Martin Doherty takes to the mike – nurture me through an essay.

Chvrches manage to pack a punch with a nuanced and textured listening experience, which could happily belong in any one of the past four decades.

There is a menace and emotional turmoil fuelling the appeal of each song: tapping into adolescent anxiety, but superseding some of the empty, effusive pop that the group’s peers have been guilty of. Reminiscent of Kate BushDepeche Mode, and – more recently – Purity RingChvrches manage to pack a punch with a nuanced and textured listening experience, which could happily belong in any one of the past four decades. And yet, there is something equally futuristic and forward-thinking about its aural appeal.

There’s room for development for the band to really mould or consolidate the slightly more experimental flavours at their disposal. ‘Science/Visions’ hints at a weak spot to rest on the laurels of the other songs, repeating some of the hooks previously heard and slightly less polished than its predecessors. But that’s a blip in an otherwise phenomenally phantasmagorical and accomplished album. Believe in these bones, because I suspect they’re something special.

Similar To: Purity Ring, Depeche Mode

MP3: ‘Lies’, ‘Gun’, ‘Recover’

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