Chrvches: Every Open Eye

6 Dec

By Travis Carlyle

Chvrches_-_Every_Open_EyeScottish Synth-poppers, Chvrches, have released their long-awaited follow-up to debut album, The Bones of What You Believe (2013). Hip teens across the globe now have a second album to cue guests into their house drink-ups and slumber parties with.

Joking aside, the band has garnered wide acclaim within a musical genre that is overloaded with similar-sounding “talent” and thematic concerns as deep as rain puddles on suburban walkways.

While I enjoyed their first release, I couldn’t help but feel that bands like Sleigh Bells have crisper, more adventurous electronics – while singers like Kiesza out-range and out-perform Chvrches’ vocalist, Lauren Mayberry.

But what of their latest release, Every Open Eye? For a start, Chvrches have done the standard second album “we must justify the praise” approach – they’ve gotten more serious and have a more resolute sound. The electronic hooks are definitely stronger, with the wishy-washy, dreamscape instrumentals of their first release nowhere near as prevalent here – they are now replaced with actual instrumental presence instead of an atmospheric background.

“Never Ending Circles”, the album’s starting point, could quite easily have come off of my favourite Sleigh Bells release, Treat. The drops are heavy – almost dubsteppy – with Mayberry’s hollow and haunting harmony hovering over it all. Even lyrically, Chvrches seem to have grown from the toddler booties of their first release and are now sporting brand new brogues.

Here’s to taking what you came for

And here’s to running off the pain

And here’s to just another no man

If you want another

Say you need another

Here’s to never ending circles

And building them on top of me

And here’s to another no man

If you want another

Say you need another

There’s a definite, serious (feminist at that) feel from the outset here, one that carries over strongly into “Leave A Trace”.

One of the hallmarks of Chvrches’ first release was a variety in song structure and pace – something too many pop-something bands of 2015 fail to grasp. “Empty Threat”, for example, almost rings true as a singalong stadium-anthem… that’s one of the last things I expected to hear on this release.

I mentioned earlier that Chvrches have grown up in this release – and I stand by that. The big downside to growing up, though, is that you often become more predictable… and Chvrches sadly do this too.

Entering the last four tracks of the album just feels like they’re playing it all safe, the dynamism that Sleigh Bells and M83 (two bands I would compare most strongly to Chvrches) is nowhere to be found. “Down Side of Me” honestly just sounds like a worse version of “Make Them Gold”, and that’s a real shame for the promise this album shows at its outset.

This remains a solid release with some stunning singles (“Never Ending Circles” and “Make Them Gold” my favourites), just not the special something that The Bones of What You Believe turned out to be.

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