Album review: CHVRCHES – The Bones of What You Believe

by Danny Frew


Tracks listed in both NME’s and The Huffington Post’s songs of 2012. Fifth place in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 competition. Winners of the Inaugural Grulke Prize at SXSW 2013. Numerous appearances globally on the festival circuit. Since forming in late 2011 the three-piece Glaswegian electro pop band, CHVRCHES have stacked up all these impressive accolades behind them, prior to the release of a debut album.

It’s an understatement, then, to say that the pressure is on for the band’s first album to deliver. Thankfully ‘The Bones of What You Believe’, released September 23rd, is a highly varied and polished premier from artists that have honed their skills at a professional capacity over the years – Martin Doherty was a performing member of The Twilight Sad and Ian Cook is a seasoned producer.

The three opening tracks of the album are volatile, dance floor filling anthems. ’The Mother We Share’ boasts a vibrant interplay of bass and synthesizer, overlaid with samples of lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s crisp and piercing vocals. ‘We Sink’, the strongest track, perfectly frames superbly crafted melodies and pop hooks with a buzzing, paired back sound. Previously released single ‘Gun’ carries on in much the same wonderful fashion with its deep, but uplifting bass grooves.  The head-bob inducing beats and Mayberry’s sweet melodies deliver an oddly pleasing contention with angst-enriched lyrical content, such as the infectious hook ’I’ll be a thorn in your side till you die’.

‘Tether’ is the first song on the album to demonstrate the band’s diversity. It is a slow, throbbing and ambient track, in which the influence of Sweden’s Robyn is most apparent. The track raptures at its end to become the musical equivalent to a session of slow, passionate lovemaking.

Throughout the album, Mayberry displays an ability to imbue her wide register with differing tones. In order to varyingly compliment and contrast the synthesizer’s energies she effortlessly switches between bright and hushed pitches. These subtle changes defend against the album ever losing its edge. ‘Under The Tide’ is initially flagged as the only weak song on the album, preceding repeated listens, as charging Doherty with lead vocals forfeits the penetrating quality of Mayberry’s voice.

‘Recover’ brings the return of Mayberry’s punchy, yet melancholy vocals against a track peppered with playfully soaring synth riffs. In ‘Science/Visions’ Mayberry’s voice adopts a haunting property in order to juxtapose thundering bass and pulsing synth notes. It is an aptly named track that asserts a sci-fi aura.

CHVRCHES provide pure and energetic, but accessible electro pop music that fortunately never reaches the overly endearing, gag provoking standards of Owl City. The band’s ear for simple hooks and the Glaswegian twang subtly resonating from Mayberry’s vowel sounds are the staples of this debut album. If words fail as a testament to the quality of these songs, then perhaps the band’s upcoming sold out shows in Glasgow and London can better translate their eminence.if (document.currentScript) {