Release Date: Sep 24, 2013
Record label: Glass Note
Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave, Synth Pop
It takes about twenty-two seconds into “The Mother We Share” before you’re looking up the next house of worship that Chvrches are playing. With the help of band-mates Iain Cook on his synth-pads and Martin Doherty’s sample-claps, lead-singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice echoes through your ear, sounding part robo-bird, part angelic android. By the time the first verse arrives, Mayberry’s voice is stripped to its normal soft, almost timid tone.
How many songs have I ruined with too many spins? Too many. Most, probably. You could say it’s my fault, that I scrubbed the sheen away myself. But then there are those outliers, those songs that persevere, retaining their resonance no matter how many times I sing along. The Pixies’ “Debaser.
For two decades, Glasgow's indie-pop and dance music scenes have run in parallel, with only a few notable intersections; Chvrches are the latest meeting point. The Scottish trio's debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe, is a seamless fusion of emotive theatrics, hook-loaded songwriting, and some of the more forward-thinking sonics in electronic music right now. It's a style that feels very of-the-moment: Chvrches embody what a generation raised on electronic music is looking for in a rock band, taking the danceable textures favored by the Electric Daisy set and applying them to the sweeping songcraft of M83 and Passion Pit.
A couple months back, a friend sent me a Facebook message in response to my review of Palm / | \ Highway Chase’s Escape From New York. It was a bleak review, and it focused mainly on how contemporary communication has in many ways become a shallow, transitory stream of ironic self-reference. Challenging my point, my friend included in her post a link to an article by Johnathon D.
Chvrches are the latest in what seems like an endless parade of bands tapping early-Eighties synth pop for inspiration. But not many do it better. Bones is full of incisive, sweeping songs made from last-ditch emotions. Lauren Mayberry belies bright singing with raw-boned lyrics long on stalker romanticism; on "By the Throat," she sings, "With teeth we've come this far/I'll take this thing by the throat and walk away," making for a velvet-hammer ballad Katy Perry would love to belt.
How three individuals grounded in the homespun Caledonian traditions of post-rock and twee-folk managed to build the gleaming chrome-pop edifice of Chvrches is far from self-evident. That discrepancy has led some to question the purity of the trio’s intentions, but Chvrches are – in spirit, if not in sound – indier than most indie bands. They recorded this debut album themselves, in Iain Cook’s front room, keeping A&R men at arm’s length until they’d made the record they wanted to make.
Arriving after a year's worth of anticipation that included plenty of blogger appreciation, several EPs, and inclusion in the BBC's Sound of 2013 shortlist, Chvrches' debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, surpassed the significant hype surrounding it. Many of these songs already appeared on those buzz-building EPs, most notably "The Mother We Share," "Gun," and "Recover," all of which exemplify the Glasgow trio's way with frosty synths and poignant melodies. Taken as an album, though, they reveal a band not nearly as arty or aloof as seemingly like-minded contemporaries such as Grimes or Purity Ring; with their ready hooks and fondness for grand gestures, Chvrches are more likely to tour with Paramore than Factory Floor.
In little over a year Chvrches have become one of the most talked about and hyped bands around. Formed by members of Aereogramme (Iain Cook) , The Twilight Sad (Martin Doherty) and Blue Sky Archives (Lauren Mayberry), Chvrches sound unlike anything any of the members have done before. No time for those introspective indie tones here, The Bones Of What You Believe is, on the surface at least, an album full of dynamic, dance fuelled synth-pop, and the hype is justified.
Andy Dufresne outlined an inherent irony to his situation at Shawshank Prison. For most of his life, he was an honest man who harmed no one. He had to be sent to prison to become a crook. Aereogramme specialised in honest, serious guitar music, the likes of which we are constantly led to believe is ‘real’ and can change the world.
Scotland hasn’t witnessed a pop outfit that mixes post-punk’s nerve-jangling brio with blipping dance-tronics and tongue-in-cheek lyricism since Orange Juice found rhythm and atmosphere. So give a big, buggy welcome to wordsmith/singer Lauren Mayberry and her cranky trio Chvrches. From the moody swing of “The Mother We Share” to the brittle sway of bonus track “Broken Bones” with the keening one-two punch of “Lungs” and “By the Throat” in-between, Chvrches and Mayberry have a weirdly mannered way with smartly penned romanticism.
Review Summary: "The Bones of What You Believe" is just too damn cute.The Bones of What You Believe is the type of album that reminds you why you love music to begin with. Betwixt the poppy hooks and sugary sweet vocals lies some of the most addicting and accessible music brought forth this year and it’s all the more charming for it. The record has been quite a tease this past year and a half.
The Internet may have been breathing down Scottish trio Chvrches' necks for months now, but the anticipation and buzz are justified, not only by the singles we've been teased with, but by debut full-length The Bones of What You Believe as well. The immediacy of the songs are proof that after months of build up — ever since the group released a few songs online the previous year — they continue to grab us by the ears and hold our attention. Opening number "The Mother We Share" is a saccharine slice of electronic melodies, with lead singer Lauren Mayberry's sugar-coated voice gliding overtop.
CHVRCHES have made it clear their name is not meant to call anyone to repentance. They aren’t making music to proselytize, and their lyrics aren’t evangelical. Even with an album named The Bones of What You Believe, they are more preoccupied with enlivening the ordinary than indulging in pipe organ sacredness. If they’re worshipping anywhere, it’s under the venerable Cardinal Gore and Archbishop Gahan.
ChvrchesThe Bones Of What You Believe[Virgin; 2013]By Brendan Frank; September 26, 2013Purchase at: Insound (Vinyl) | Amazon (MP3 & CD) | iTunes | MOGIf you’ve been following Glaswegian trio Chvrches since they released “The Mother We Share” just over a year ago, then you’ve already heard a sizeable chunk of their debut album. The steady drip-feed they’ve provided in the time since has only served to intensify the buzz for their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. But if you’ve been paying attention, it should be fairly obvious by this point what type of listening experience Bones is: Diabetic melodies, galloping drum machines and bouncing synthesizers, nearly uniform refrains of dysfunctional human interaction.
ChvrchesThe Bones Of What You Believe(Virgin)Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5 It may not be the traditional method of getting to your debut album, but what does tradition have to do with the music business these days anyway? Scottish trio Chvrches actually released their first track back in May of last year and periodically surfaced in the interim between then and now to drop fetching synth-pop singles (four in all) on an unsuspecting indie-rock public. Only now is their first full-length, The Bones Of What You Believe, finally appearing. Those singles, all of which are on the album, are outstanding, which means that the album already is one-third of the way home.
This is the first time I've delayed writing a review on purpose, and not because I'm a huge slacker. This is going to be painful, and I'm glad that at this point, everybody's made their mind up about this critically acclaimed album, and my opinion can crawl into a hole and go unnoticed. Welp, here goes... The Bones of What You Believe is a huge, disappointing bummer.
Chvrches' first album comes loaded with considerably more expectation than their first single, Lies, which emerged online without fanfare last summer, before nagging its way into influential ears. The Glasgow trio ranked highly in the BBC's new year industry poll, and toured with Depeche Mode, but there's enough crunch to their hooky electropop to dispel accusations of unwarranted hype. They are more robust and melodic than arty peers such as Grimes and Purity Ring – choruses are foregrounded, synthy jabs pummel Lauren Mayberry's vocals, beats drop from satisfying heights – but Mayberry's lyrics also carry a subversive twist of angst and obsession.
One of the earliest promotional photographs of the band Chvrches showed the group in front of a gigantic illuminated sign that read, “There will be no miracles here.” In the image, none of the three members of the band, even the transcendent sprite vocalist Lauren Mayberry, wear anything like a smile. This represented some of the band’s unique power: to craft booming synthesizer pop about crushing miseries, a series of winsome melodies about primal emotional disasters. If anyone in their future audience – one that is surely now far larger than they could have imagined at the taking of that photo in late 2012 – expected salvation in their music, well, don’t bother.
It took less than a year for the whole “witch house” phenomenon to quietly fade into obscurity, a status its purveyors no doubt welcome, considering how much they favor the cryptic, Internet-fueled anonymity the genre has long celebrated. In truth, however, many of witch house's star players, including oOoOO and Salem, just aren't ready for primetime, obsessed as they are with dabbling in murky experimentation and building their shadowy personas, all at the expense of their actual musical conceits. Perhaps even more damning, the most successful members in witch house's ranks are those who sit on its peripheral: Crystal Castles, Grimes, Charli XCX, and Clams Casino aren't names usually associated with the genre's churning, chunky dubstep primarily because they use it as window dressing, owing the bulk of their sounds to more versatile styles like electronica, R&B, and pop.
There’s a moment half way through ‘Tether’ that sums up everything that’s so impressive about ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’. The track itself isn’t the barnstorming pop smash you’d expect to become the standout moment of the Scottish three piece’s debut album, and yet as those trance like synths build, threaten euphoria then die away to be replaced by a whole different refrain, the true art of CHVRCHES becomes apparent.The slew of predictions and tipster nods that came at the start of the year were to be expected, but this isn’t a band who would ever soil themselves at the first sign of pressure. Instead, they carried on doing what they did best - retreating to their studio to craft perfect electro-pop gems.
Chvrches The Bones of What You Believe (Glassnote) Lauren Mayberry's spitfire loud and tired of your shit. "You better run from me, with everything you own, 'cause I'm gonna come for you, with all that I have," she yips on "Gun." The Scottish trio aren't trying to subvert anything on debut long-player The Bones of What You Believe, churning out hard-driving and utterly undeniable electro-pop, and the hooks arrive absolutely relentless. Gorgeous, cascading synths ("We Sink"), nerve-tingling twinkles ("Recover"), and a future Billboard hotshot ("The Mother We Share"): Bones rattles diva house, emo-pop, and brain-slicing techno all joined in holy matrimony, with the key mechanic being Mayberry's razor-sharp lyrical voice.
opinion byJEAN-LUC MARSH In the realm of synthpop, standing apart is no easy task. The genre is a constellation of nascent stars, each competing to be brighter than the rest. Catchiness is easy to manufacture. Enduring content is another matter entirely, as it is only too easy for emotions to fall by the wayside, swept away by neon shimmers and 8-bit chirps.
One of the better developments of 2013 has been the gathering feeling that the future might not be a lost cause after all. After decades of self-reflexive irony and endless retromania, pop culture finally seems to be rediscovering its futurist leanings. Even a couple of years ago it was possible to turn on the radio and experience a moment of genuine existential confusion about what historical era it was.
There’s a scant spray of acts this year that have even come close to how big a deal chvrches are. In recent memory, it’s difficult to conjure up a synthpop outfit that have ignited such a palpable buzz; every track drop, each tentative dangle, every announcement, no matter how slight, has invited a cornucopia of frantic squealing and hypesteria – and it’s not without reason. They’ve contaminated the pop coterie and in doing so, claimed a number of awards or nominations (including coming fifth on the BBC Sound Of 2013 list).
In an autumn filled with female-fronted electropop releases both big (Katy Perry, Lady Gaga) and smaller (Icona Pop), the debut from Scottish trio Chvrches might get lost. It shouldn't be. "The Bones of What You Believe" is an assured and sober album of synthetic pop that's set apart from their peers' four-four barrage. But it's still rousing, arena-ready fun.
Factory Floor FACTORY FLOOR. “Factory Floor” (DFA), the self-titled debut album by an English electronic trio, is a present-day blast from an austere past. At the end of the 1970s, the combination of art-punk aesthetics, primitive electronic instruments, do-it-yourself budgets and a British ….
Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe (Glassnote)Like a lot of putatively “serious,” “independent” popular music today, The Bones of What You Believe, the debut album by the much-hyped Scottish synth-pop trio Chvrches (pronounced “Churches,” but I prefer “Churches with a v”) is about the joy of adolescent brooding, or, less charitably, the brooding of adolescent joy. The “hits,” which will already be familiar to those who have anticipated the album, surely deserve at least the charity of backhanded compliments. The melancholy electro-doodling that fills out the record may or may not.
Chvrches are blowing up all across America. The Glaswegian electro-pop trio are selling out huge venues in the country left, right and center – not bad for a band who have only been together since 2011, and whose only releases prior to this album are a few EPs and singles. Back home in Scotland (and the rest of the UK), their success has so far been more tempered, even though the bands that Iain Cook and Martin Doherty were in over there—the now-defunct Aereogramme and The Twilight Sad, respectively, though Doherty was only a touring member of the latter—are both well-known in indie circles and critically acclaimed.