Release Date: Sep 25, 2015
Record label: Glassnote
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One day, Chvrches will probably release a bad song. Theoretically, at any rate. It has to happen eventually, right? Because on the evidence of ‘Every Open Eye’, they’re yet to come even close. From early demos through to debut ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’, the Scottish trio have hit every note.
When Every Open Eye kicks off with “Never Ending Circles,” it sounds as if the song started on its own before you even hit play. It’s proof CHVRCHES know one of the most important rules of writing great pop music: it’s better to sprint than train for a marathon. It’s not to say these songs are really going to pump adrenaline into your veins, but their objective certainly seems to be giving strength and inspiration to the listener.
In the two years since the release of their debut album The Bones Of What You Believe, Chvrches have played somewhere in the region of 360 shows (and countless others prior to the album dropping). The songs from that album have been played to death on the radio, on adverts, in shops, and of course, by the band themselves on stage. There must have come a point when the band thought about changing direction and bludgeoning those songs to death.
There's something to be said for using gigs and festival shows as research. Radio plays and downloads are one thing, but seeing how a person physically reacts to your song right in front of your eyes is the best metric you could possibly have. Which gets the biggest cheer? Which gets the crowd dancing? Which get a crowd slowly drifting over to the bar? Cut, tinker, develop; get everything as tight as possible then use what you have and build something new on that.
Chvrches' impact on the pop landscape made itself known almost immediately after the release of The Bones of What You Believe -- in the years that followed, artists big and small were borrowing the Scottish trio's flair for heart-on-sleeve lyrics wrapped in soaring, synth-laden choruses. Even if the sensitive synth-pop field was more crowded at the time of Every Open Eye's release than it was in 2013, Chvrches distinguish themselves by continuing to do this sound better than just about anyone. Rather than expanding on their debut's combination of hooks and huge soundscapes, they streamline the formula that made songs like "Recover" and "The Mother We Share" so beloved.
Three strident synth-pop bangers open the second Chvrches album and lay bare the Scottish trio’s intent: here they are doubling down on the formula that got them where they are today. It’s an assured follow-up to their US-conquering debut, The Bones of What You Believe, picking out its predecessor’s stadium-pop moments and turning up the intensity without ever overselling its charm. There’s an appealing combination of steely survival and breathless optimism throughout – Make Them Gold and Clearest Blue look towards a better future, with the latter updating Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough for the BBC Radio 1 A-list.
One can almost be forgiven for thinking Chvrches are merely a vehicle for singer Lauren Mayberry's dulcet voice and cutting, emotional lyrics. To an extent, that's true: The group's monolithic, austere synth compositions are almost 100% mechanical, and without Mayberry's earnest delivery veering between defiant resolve and quivering desperation, Chvrches would sound almost inhuman. But on Every Open Eye, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty coyly play to their singer's strengths, whether they're repurposing samples of her voice to serve as a backing chorus or simply not stepping on the toes of a stunning, clarion chorus.
As good as CHVRCHES' debut album The Bones of What You Believe was (and it was very good indeed), the whole record did often seem to be running to catch up with arguably the finest opening track on a debut album this decade in "The Mother We Share. " That isn't necessarily a criticism—the strength of the rest of that record and their live shows have marked them out as genuine leading lights in the next generation of British bands (as well as singer Lauren Mayberry's praiseworthy campaign to speak out against online misogyny). But although Every Open Eye doesn't necessarily have a stand-out single of that stature (few do), the overall consistency throughout the album serves to starkly define CHVRCHES as uniquely now; relevant; and above all, here to stay.
When Chvrches released their lead single "Leave a Trace," from their new album Every Open Eye, lead singer Lauren Mayberry boldly proclaimed the track as, "the middle finger mic-drop. " In the blistering kiss-off, Mayberry took a stand against a dreadful romance, telling the person with conviction: "Take care to bury all that you can / Take care to leave a trace of a man. " Mayberry's fired up sentiments here aren't the only mic drop to be found among Every Open Eye's 11 urgent tracks.
My mother made me a lifelong Eurythmics fan. A constant in our house alongside the Celtic rock anthems of U2 and Runrig, they offered a vision of a Scottish voice beyond bluster, of chill thrills and electric rush, and, in Annie Lennox, a frontwoman who explored all aspects of herself: tough, soft, exuberant, cold, androgynous, ultra-feminine. Chvrches and their frontwoman Lauren Mayberry offer a similar pleasure on their second album, a record like a deep gulp of cold air on a clear, bright morning after.
Anyone who has spent more than a minute in a clothing store over the past few years has heard dozens of bands making a calculated, charmless attempt to duplicate what came so naturally to Chvrches on their zeitgeisty debut The Bones of What You Believe. Which leaves the real deal facing a tremendous challenge three years after emerging anonymously from their basement with "The Mother We Share". "After making one record that people really like, some bands reject the things that everyone liked about them and make some really deep, thoughtful, dark record," Martin Doherty admitted to Pitchfork earlier this year.
Chvrches are fast becoming a veritable ecclesiastical hit factory. Following a widely successful debut which yielded seven singles, their sustainable, hand-reared, synth-driven pop basslines are yet again riveted to the feisty cherubic vocals of frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, and Every Open Eye could prove to be part of another winning formula. The album is frontloaded – much like The Bones Of What You Believe, with the bigger hitting single tracks - however, the chief references seek to differentiate themselves from their predecessor.
Review Summary: Chvrches craft a focused and energetic follow up to their celebrated debut, and perhaps even top it in the process.When Chvrches crashed the indie-pop party of 2013, a couple of things became apparent. The first was that Lauren Mayberry is absolutely adorable, and the second is that she’s a damn good musician who deserves nothing but our collective respect. To go along with her law degree and masters in journalism, she has the ideal voice for the group’s upbeat brand of electro-pop…and with only one album under her belt, she has already put it to tremendous use.
CHVRCHES devote themselves to early-’80s British synth-pop the way some bands devote themselves to the blues. On their sophomore album, the cavernous synths of Tears for Fears meet Pet Shop Boys’ lovesick croon and the muscular glitter of Eurythmics, presided over by Lauren Mayberry’s powerhouse coo. The band is riding high on a crest of Internet-powered fan bliss, and sounds it: The thorny relationship-dissolution songs on 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe matched the album’s chilly, sometimes stark sound; Every Open Eye — the work of a band who’s seen which parts of which songs send their audiences into overflowing ecstasy — sets lines about ambition and emotional self-sufficiency (“I am chasing the skyline more than you ever will”) to booming waves of synth.
Energy is a hard thing to fake for a band putting out their second album. In dealing with the pressures of maintaining the momentum of a well-received first effort and simultaneously creating something fresh, too many artists fail to make their music as passionate and exciting as it was in their formative years. Luckily, Scotland’s CHVRCHES seem to be stressing their own superhuman vitality on their second album, Every Open Eye, on which they have no qualms about pushing the tempo and never looking back.
Chvrches is the sound of Scottish studio rats tapping the I-will-survive energy of disco triumphalism, often to dazzling effect. The Glasgow trio's second album builds on the stem-winding synth-surge of their arresting 2013 debut, The Bones of What You Believe. They're not big on verse-chorus structure, going instead for roiling anthems that start big and only get grander: "Clearest Blue" is Depeche Mode's "Just Can't Get Enough" as an elephantine EDM high-five.
After the success of Chvrches’ 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe, the Glaswegian trio became almost as well known for the torrent of misogynistic online abuse targeted at frontwoman Lauren Mayberry as for their stellar brand of 80s-infused electropop. This follow-up continues their bouncy, synth-heavy sound, but with some defiant retorts for the trolls. “I’ll go my own way if I’m going at all,” Mayberry sings on the opener, Never Ending Circles.
A year ago, CHVRCHES were just finishing up their victory lap tour behind The Bones of What You Believe, the 2013 album that rocketed the Glasgow trio out of relative obscurity and into headlining festival slots. The debut hit like a perfect storm; colorful, accessible pop tones swirled together with clever structural escalations and hooks that just would not stop raining down. CHVRCHES wrote pre-choruses that were good enough to be choruses, and when the chorus actually came, it was like the song had just unhinged a second pair of jaws.
Polemics in The Guardian, segments on Channel 4 News, feminist websites and Twitter sparring - sometimes it seems Chvrches are more of a political force than a musical one. Sure, for a while there 'The Mother We Share' was as ubiquitous as the wind and festival organisers the world over might as well have worked from a lineup template with their name already watermarked, but two years on from their debut the conversation is rarely about the band’s music. And hey, that’s probably how it should be - Lauren Mayberry’s tireless work in calling out the internet’s misogynists is more important than cut-up melodies and neon beats and choruses the size of Unicron.
For the highly anticipated follow-up to their 2013 breakthrough debut, Scottish electro-pop trio Chvrches wanted to make a record that was as accessible as possible without losing their 80s synth revivalism sound. Every Open Eye will appeal equally to Swifties obsessed with 1989 and Chvrches’ original contingent of fans. Many of these songs could become singles or bona fide pop anthems, like Clearest Blue, a dancey track with pillowy synths and drums that increase in urgency as vocalist Lauren Mayberry shouts, “Will you meet me more than halfway there?” just as the song erupts into a frenzy.
Although 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe ventured into prog and rambling imitations of the Pet Shop Boys, Chvrches embraces an unabashed joy of pop on sophomore offering Every Open Eye. The Glasgow threepiece has figured out what works: in this case, catchy funk-pop ("High Enough to Carry You Over") that threatens the radio friendliness of Bruno Mars, and nods to early Depeche Mode ("Clearest Blue"). It's a study in pop's greatest attributes, with single "Leave a Trace" casting singer Lauren Mayberry at the level of a modern-day Cyndi Lauper.
Ever since they barged onto the pop landscape, Chvrches have been a bit of a contradiction. Much like the structures from which they take their name, the music of Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty is all about scale, large and small. They summon majestic sounds that could fill a canyon, and etch in microscopic details that you can overlook if you’re not paying attention.
Chvrches has yet to make a misstep. The Scottish trio built some buzz in 2012 by releasing tracks online, followed up with a solid EP that spring, then capitalized on its momentum with one 2013’s best albums. From there it toured relentlessly—364 shows in two years, according to its press materials—while frontwoman Lauren Mayberry made waves speaking out against online harassment of female artists.
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