Top Contender For Album Of The Year: CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe
Sometimes, when you own a great record like, let’s say Kate Bush’s The Hounds of Love, you don’t really need any records from the pale imitators like, say Tori Amos. (Bring it, haters.) It would be easy to dismiss Glasgow’s CHVRCHES by saying “oh hey, I already own Cocteau Twins and Robyn records, so I’m good.” To be fair CHVRCHES owes a great deal to both of those artists. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s vocals are multitracked to the point of dreaminess, much like the Twins did with Liz Fraser. There are shimmery electro-pop moments on the CHVRCHES debut that definitely could have appeared on any Robyn record. That said, this debut, The Bones of What You Believe, is a really really great record. It manages to pay homage to its forbears while still sounding like a new record you really want to buy.
The lead single, Recover, has been out forfreakingever and is already one of my top songs for the year:
The big big electro keyboard sound makes it sound somewhat cheery and anthemic, but it really isn’t. Check out a stripped down version so you can hear the sad:
And that, dear readers, is what this record is really good at and what likely makes it transcend a lot of ’80s-aping groups. Tracks like “The Mother We Share” are a great example.
There’s enough synths for an Erasure record and drum machines galore, but the lyrics don’t match up with the sound:
I’m in misery where you can seem as old as your omens/
And the mother we share will never keep your proud head from falling
That disconnect – the trepidation and trouble on a bed of poppy synths – shouldn’t work very well but it really really works well. Sometimes the lyrics shift into outright menace like the do in “Gun” and it still sounds great:
You had better run from me/
with everything you own/
cause I am gonna come for you/
with all that I have/
I am gonna break you down/
to tiny, tiny parts
Should you buy it? Yes, yes, yes a thousand times yes. Synth pop not your bag? Don’t care. Girl vocalists not your thing? Doesn’t matter. This is unequivocally good pop music. Layered synths are your modern day Spector-esque Wall of Sound and you should learn to love it. Also, you can get it cheap if you pre-order from Amazon right now.
Rating: all the kittens, all the whips. A strong contender for album of the year.
The Bones of What You Believe is out September 24th on Glassnote records.