Review: CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye
CHVRCHES latest effort makes a convincing case for electronic music’s continued dominance...
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CHVRCHES occupy an interesting niche somewhere between the hook-heavy, synth-light efforts of Years and Years and more rave-friendly material from deadmau5 and classic Chemical Brothers. We end up with the best of both worlds: CHVRCHES drop the bass with much more gusto than their politer pop cousins, whilst retaining a sing-along chorus.
A lot of ‘Every Open Eye’ is very, very good. The chorus of ‘Never Ending Circles’ is a worthy successor of the band’s break-through hit ‘The Mother We Share’, and is matched with unapologetically brash synths.
Lead single ‘Leave a Trace’ balances lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s righteous anger with irresistible harmonies and soaring admissions of Mayberry’s need to ‘feel release’. Topping both of them, ‘Keep You On My Side’ is a showcase of everything we love about CHVRCHES: inventive vocal sampling, pretty cascades of synths and an intensely dramatic chorus full of thumping bass and impassioned vocals.
The latter half of the album offers a lighter touch and tentative steps in new creative directions. The more urban leaning percussion and haunting melody of ‘The Down Side Of Me’ is reminiscent of Lorde at her best, whilst the initially rather dull ‘Clearest Blue’ explodes into dancey euphoria halfway through. Meanwhile the chorus of ‘Bury It’ is simple but brilliant, and it’s easy to imagine hordes of defiant fans vowing to "bury it and rise above" with gay abandon.
There are a few duff tracks. The melody of ‘Empty Threat’ sounds half-hearted compared with the noisy synths which are meant to lend it intensity, whilst the glossy self-belief of ‘Make Them Gold’ lacks the grit that distinguishes CHVRCHES from their pop contemporaries.
Lyrics are not CHVRCHES strong point either; most of the songs revolve around the well –trodden territory of difficult relationships and the need for closure once they are over. The emotion Mayberry lends to the songs more than makes up for the rather bland lyrics though, and maybe words don’t really matter when most of the songs sound this good.
In the end, it’s fair to say that CHVRCHES emerge triumphant. They’ve found the courage to become noisier, and banished some of the weirder aspects of their debut to create a collection of well-rounded pop songs. ‘Every Open Eye’ is likely to expand their fan-base, but for their next album, CHVRCHES will have to take a creative leap forward out of their comfort zone in order to keep us listening.