The Bones of What you Believe Album Review
Virgin Records, Goodbye Records
Released September 20, 2013
Lots of terrible things hail from Glasgow but I should be wise as to deliver them with the utmost respect as to avoid altercations with one of it’s ‘great and totally not dangerous’ inhabitants. Battered Mars bars, teenage alcoholism and knife culture comes to mind but that would be a short-sighted and fear mongered perspective into what is an exceptionally proficient city for boosting Scottish bands into the ranks of high.
Enter Chrvches, a Glaswegian synth-pop trio. Recently gracing the headlines (well, the twitter-sphere) is Chrvches’ front-woman and lead singer Lauren Mayberry who has taken arms up against the ubiquitous misogyny and sex culture throughout social media. A struggle aided by popular feminist and fellow synth-popper Grimes and dampened by geriatric sleaze-bag Robin Thicke. But enough social politics, let’s find out if Chrvches’ debut is as courageous and revolutionary as Mayberry’s fighting spirit.
When we experience music our preconceptions bare heavy weight. They mould what we hear acting as a filter to what is actually being played rather than what we expect to be played. The Bones of What You Believe is a tried and tested pop record (I can almost hear the empty-frame-wearers among you pulling out your hair). CHRVCHES are a non-compromising synth-pop band so when confronted with memorable hooks and glistening synth tones we expect nothing less. I believe this is why Chrvches have managed to craft a far more lucrative debut than many other electro-pop endeavors on this side of the pond-looking at you Bastille.
Take opening cut “The Mother We Share” for example. It dropped a few months back and has acted as the flaming torch of potential for this record. A softly sweet and charismatic vocal performance from Mayberry possesses the ability to make even the hardiest soul swoon. Similarly, “Recover” boasts an impressively memorable chorus; the pinnacle attribute that drew attention to this trio back in 2011. Lyrically the Scots are occasionally guilty of plummeting into the tragically frequent pop-pitfall of lofty and cliche phrases. “I’m the Night Sky / I’m the fire in your eye” croons Lauren, sickly sweet me thinks. That said, there are genuine moments of introspection and reflection and what should be mentioned is the sterling choice of using male vocals on tracks like “Lungs” and “Under the Tide” which really act as a pulley system, bringing mass to what is an entirely buoyant LP.
The instrumentation on this record is consistent but lacks variety. As someone who enjoys ambition in debuts I was disheartened marginally by the tonal box Chrvches seemed to operate within but I suppose playing it safe in a music scene diluted by synth-pop bands isn’t a terrible strategy. It’s far compensated by the cinematic choruses on, say, Lies a track which nods confidently at prospective stadium shows. Tracks “Gun” and “Lies” display Mayberry at her most focused and empowered. “You have better run from me/ With everything you own”. With hooks as punchy as these it’d be easy to mistake Mayberry for a boxer.
Chrvches have ticked all the boxes with this release and have the makings to be a commercial giant in a miniature outfit. Infectious hooks, well crafted instrumentation and clean production outweigh the occasional cheese and instrumental under-sight. The misty hills of Glasgow are clearing. Chrvches truly are the synth soaked sun that penetrates through the morose haze of Scotland.
FAV TRACKS: LIES / GUN / RECOVER
LEAST FAV TRACK: NIGHT SKY
Will Butler is second year University student from the UK and radio show presenter for the local station. He found the PNG guys through Reddit and is looking forward to working with them to cover the best the music scene has to offer, on both sides of the pond! Keep it Neat!
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