It takes a lot these days for a pop album to really grab me, and over the years I’ve been distancing myself from the genre. However, when I heard ‘Gun’, taken from Chvrches upcoming album, it was the first (electro) pop song I’ve genuinely liked for a long time so my expectations were high for ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’. Although the aforementioned song is probably the best track there’s still plenty more to like about the Scottish groups charismatic debut.
I’d forgotten how good electro-pop can actually sound when it’s done properly, and Chvrches have definitely found that sweet spot, because as a whole ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ is sublime, being uplifting, charming and deep. It pulsates and dazzles from start to finish, with very few weak moments. It’s occasionally dark, but these more mellow moments, on ‘Under The Tide’ and ‘Tether’ show a more mature side to Chvrches. The same can be said about the lyrics, which are equally dark and don’t always match the upbeat electronics but this isn’a bad thing by any means as it’s just another angle from which to admire Chvrches. It’s not just sunshine choruses and melodic vocals on display – there’s a vulnerability behind the majesty that the album possesses. This is partly due to lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s delicate yet strong delivery. She excels throughout, through both the softer and the more energetic moments, breathing life over the electronics that are the second half of Chvrches’ music. Some tracks have male vocals which complement Mayberry well, mixing high and low to find a good balance, meaning that ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ contains one of the strongest vocal performances I’ve heard in 2013.
Where the record really shines is its more exhilarating moments, like the shimmering chorus of opener ‘The Mother We Share’, or ‘Recover’, on which the electronics and vocals are perfectly in sync, making for a catchy and memorable song. Also, there’s a good variety of sounds here; ‘Science / Visions’ could easily soundtrack a 90’s fitness video whilst ‘Lungs’ contains an odd and out of place industrial segment. Fourth track ‘Tether’ starts off dark and basic but ends on a euphoric note, demonstrating a complex song structure that turns the song on its head, whilst closer and longest song ‘You Caught The Light’ simply cruises along, ending the album on a strangely psychedelic note.
There’s a massive electronic influence on ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ reminiscent of ‘Tarot Sport’ era Fuck Buttons. Those soaring synths feature on most choruses, whilst a Daft Punk ebb and flow punctuates verses. Theres little input from other instruments, bar the brilliant ‘Gun’ which is carried by toe-tapping drumming. For the most part the album is a dazzling and sprawling electronic canvas, which its contributors have crafted impeccably. As a whole the production here is excellent, never letting vocals overshadow electronics and vice versa. ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ is superbly constructed and well written meaning I struggled to find any real fault because the album is finely tuned and expertly polished.
‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ is electro-pop done excellently, and is also one of the most confident and self assured debuts to be released this year. This may be down to some of the members having experience from other projects (‘The Unwinding Hours’, ‘The Twilight Sad’), but the album stands tall as an individual body of work brimming with energy and it’s an enthralling listen as a result.
Rating – 9/10
Stream it here: http://www.npr.org/2013/09/15/221714011/first-listen-chvrches-the-bones-of-what-you-believe
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