In a society where both alternative music and the ’80s are considered to be cool, it’s no surprise that Scottish trio CHVRCHES have become inescapable in the last couple of years. Combining electronics and contagious hooks, they’ve been soundtracking everywhere with their ’80s-esque synthpop, from Jools Holland to Reading & Leeds to Fifa ‘14. 2013’s debut full-length The Bones Of What You Believe overflows with crisp, euphoric anthems, and they stay that way, whether you’re listening to it for the first or the hundredth time. And recent follow up Every Open Eye has carried this on. The ’80s tinge is stronger and the choruses even bigger. Pulsing opener Never Ending Circles utilises the trio’s trademark vocal loop which acts as a hook along with edgy keyboards and singer Lauren Mayberry’s saccharine voice to create not just one of the most anthemic tracks CHVRCHES have ever done, but one of the biggest anthems you’ll hear all year.
And it’s not a one-off, either. CHVRCHES have massively upped their game, with most of Every Open Eye’s tracks boasting gargantuan choruses that are catchy too. Most tracks follow the same formula if you pay close enough attention, but they somehow make each one feel original enough for this to not matter. The right balance is also struck between anthemia and more lyrical tracks, and while the anthems like Empty Threat and the irresistible Make Them Gold are undoubtedly the strongest offerings, there’s a quality running through the record which makes it feel truly special.
There’s a bit of experimentation going on, too, with the intro of single Leave A Trace sounding more gritty than CHVRCHES have ever sounded before. Playing Dead is super edgy too due to its minor key (rare for CHVRCHES), and again, seems to refresh and develop their old sound nicely. But there are a few times where this doesn’t pay off as well as it does in some places. Lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry is clearly the shining light of CHVRCHES, so the lifeless High Enough To Carry You Over featuring keyboardist Martin Doherty on lead vocals sadly feels as though something’s missing. And the synth line sounds like it was taken from The Writer by Ellie Goulding, which although more than likely a coincidence, takes away from the overall originality factor. Album closer Afterglow is something of an anti-climax to say the least, too. The minimalist style of the song’s intro naturally leads one to believe that this will build up into something epic or beautiful (being the album’s closer), but two minutes later it’s still exactly the same, which is ultimately a letdown.
But these are the only two songs on Every Open Eye there are really any strong critiques about. The rest of the album is simply a joy to listen to. Pretty much everything you could want from a CHVRCHES record is here, but bigger and better with more of an edge. Huge earworms, deep, philosophical lyrics and Ibiza-worthy synths truly highlight the fact that the trio are one of the most original bands out there today, and on the back of this record the only way is up.
For fans of: The Naked And Famous, Passion Pit, MS MR
Words by Georgia Jackson
‘Every Open Eye’ by CHVRCHES is out now on Virgin Records.