Essential Tracks: We Sink, Gun, Tether, Under the Tide, Lungs.
Forget the entire ‘Roar’ vs. ‘Applause’ ordeal; this is the Pop act to be raving over. Chvrches debut is overflowing with catchy melodies, intuitive songwriting, and chilling synths. With The Bones of What You Believe’ Chvrches has given us a solid crossover record, full of hit making melodies above 80s synth driven loops, drawing directly on a lineage pioneered by the likes of New Order and Depeche Mode. The songs seem simple but reveal layers in both intention and instrumentation, and while the melodies may seem tame, they support lyrics that are surprisingly dark, even emotionally grotesque in their vulnerability. Matching that attitude Lauren Mayberry is the perfect front-woman: adorable yet vicious, outspoken yet frivolous. She understands what drives synth pop and how to deliver something catchy yet meaningful, and DAMN these songs are catchy.
After what has seemed like a lifetime of hype, and the slow appearance of singles leading up to the debut, those previously released are still standout tracks. Although personally I’ve been over The Mother We Share ever since they pulled the track for a marketing ploy, (Hello, that song’s over year old), Recover, Gun, and Lies are strong tracks and singles, still refreshing in their approachability while maintaining Chvrches’ signature- a devastatingly poetic and invigorating brand of Pop music. The remaining songs are subversively inebriating. Like Gun, and its lyrics about revenge over one of the catchiest choruses of the year, We Sink is as contrasting as a dream. It begins to demonstrate the moments on the album where the darkness of the lyrics manifests itself in certain synth layers. The track begins with a thumping bass and bright flittering tones while powerfully reaching into a sonic rounding out, filling the gaps with slyly hidden, darker and more reserved sounds. The aggressive, destructive, honest lyrics are so beautifully paired with optimistic sounding melodies and playful orchestration, that in many senses this captures the allure of Chvrches- the manic pixie dream girl of pop music: beauty, indulgence, release and freedom masking heartbreak, revenge, and poetic descriptions of human (and romantic) experiences.
Tether, the most outstanding track on the record, expresses one of the most confounding human tendencies- holding on to love. The feeling of being tied to something you want and hate at the same time, hoping for a release from intertwined hearts. Beginning with ‘Chasing things that we should run from’, and later ending with ‘I’m feeling capable of seeing the end’, Tether leads into one of the most breathtaking synth interludes I’ve heard (minute 2:10-3:13), soaring above our bound past into the possibility of a future full of rebuilding, The track also leads us into the more optimistic ideas of the album. Under the tides allows for Martin Doherty to step into the spotlight as lead vocalist, and while it incites a Shiny Toy Guns comparison, this is the 2.0 version. When the bass comes in, heavily contrasted with the light, floating tones, it’s magic, slowly unfolding into layer upon layer, building the listener up with the repetitive encouragement from the lead singer as he repeats, ‘head up’. Like the Manic Pixie Dream Girl, Chvrches is careening through the phases of love and loss all within the saga of each track, and within an album ranging from heartbreak, disdain, revenge, and letting go, to proclaiming love and protection of another being. It’s a painstakingly familiar process, and it provides tracks for every stage while delivering one of the most outstanding records of the year, even by radio terms.