My second music article and I’m going right back to Scotland to talk about a cool band that I’ve been digging for a few months now. They don’t have too much music out and available to purchase, so I want to focus on the band and the handful of songs they’ve released instead of reviewing a particular album. And before you say anything, no, this is not another gloomy indie rock band, okay; In fact, the electro-pop trio Chvrches is almost a complete sonic opposite.
Chvrches (pronounced “churches”, but spelled with a “v” and often written CHVRCHES in all caps, kind of like that Italian watch company BVLGARI) is made up of front woman Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook on synthesizers, and Martin Doherty, also on synths. Chvrches, like many other modern groups, owe a lot of their success to the Internet. They released their first couple songs online in mid-2012. The Internet’s response was very positive and created a lot of buzz for Chvrches, which they soon turned into a record deal with Glassnote Records.
I’ve never been to their hometown of Glasgow but I like to think that Chvrches’ music is what a night out in that city might sound like. Their sound combines chilly atmospheric synths with the warmth of Mayberry’s childlike vocals. Their hooks are incredibly catchy and their songs become almost anthemic when they hit critical mass. The first song they released online was called “Lies.” It’s a very glitchy and dark track, and I admit that I wasn’t really into it when I first heard it; I found it too choppy and abrasive, but it’s definitely grown on me since I’ve had a chance to listen to it after familiarizing myself with their other songs.
The second song Chvrches released was what really sold me. Even several months after first hearing it, I still can’t listen to “The Mother We Share” just once. As soon as the 80s-sounding bass comes in under a chorus of chopped up “ohh’s” by Mayberry, you can already tell that this song is huge. They up the ante during the chorus, bathing the hook in shimmering synths and 80s-style arpeggio and then tear it all down for the bridge, leaving little more than some atmosphere and vocals. Finally, they raise it back up as the song reaches it’s peak. Listening to this part, I keep expecting a soaring guitar solo to come in here, but that’s not Chvrches’ style, plus the song flies high enough already anything more would be overkill.
As I said before, there isn’t that much of their music actually on sale yet, especially in the US. With a full-length album scheduled for September, the only thing available right now is a 5 song EP (3 originals 2 remixes) called Recover, which the band put out digitally in March. The title track is very similar in composition to “The Mother We Share,” and definitely the strongest of the bunch.
The next track is called “ZVVL,” which I think is pronounced “Zuul,” playing on the “v” in their name, and is possibly a Ghostbusters reference. Unfortunately for the Gatekeeper of Gozer, this is the weakest song on the EP. Here Martin Doherty takes lead vocals but his performance lacks the charisma to sell this song which is basically a couple of buildups with unsatisfying payoffs. I’ve read that Chvrches plans to have several songs on their album with Doherty on lead and I’m a bit skeptical of how this will work out. I think that his voice is best served as a compliment to Mayberry’s, as evidenced by the third track on the EP “Now is Not the Time” which has a cool call-and-response between Mayberry and Doherty. The EP is rounded out by a couple remixes of “Recover” done by outside producers. They are definitely interesting to hear, but not what I came for.
Two weeks ago, Chvrches kicked off a summer US tour and released a song from their upcoming album. “Gun” is yet another morsel of synthpop-y goodness with a bouncing 80s baseline and a larger-than-life hook.
If I’ve done my job right and you’re now at least somewhat interested in checking out Chvrches, while waiting for their full album in September, you can dance along to all the songs I’ve previously mentioned on their SoundCloud or check out their EP on Spotify, iTunes, Amazon, etc. You can also try catching them live on their tour, which hits all the major northeastern cities, including a stop at the Firefly festival in Deleware, later this month.
Hopefully this album lives up to the hype and I can review it here on Deadshirt. If not, and the album turns out to be bad, be sure to keep an eye out for me somewhere angrily shaking my fist at the universe.
Now, just for fun, here’s a video of Chvrches covering the Game of Thrones theme song: