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Album review: Chvrches’ debut album, ‘The Bones of What You Believe,’ a stand-out

chvrches-the-bones-of-what-you-believeI was able to catch Chvrches perform in a stripped-down setting at Magnolia Thunderpussy records in anticipation of their concert later that evening on September 13. They only performed two songs: “The Mother We Share” and “Recover.” Both songs are probably their most recognizable to date, due not only to how far in advance they were released prior to album “The Bones of What You Believe,” released Monday, but also their undeniable hooks and rapturous melodies. Even during this curt store concert, the strength of frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s voice was unquestionable, not to mention the propensity her bandmates – Iain Cook and Martin Doherty — have for creating hooks. They are the perfect sonic technicians to underlie Mayberry’s voice.

The songs are easy to latch on to, almost candy-like. “The Mother We Share” opens with sequenced claps that fall into a snaring sample of Mayberry’s voice. It is given first class production for its verses and chorus, with pummeling bass that is hype for the drop of pure euphoria that is the chorus. “Recover” cuts more to the chase with Mayberry instantly kicking into her verse. Very much like the previous song, it stings with pleasure-filled synth hooks. It comes off a little more serious, but that hardly makes it less fetching.

The aforementioned songs are clear album heavyweights and reflect a clear tenacity for churning out hits (not to forget the album’s third single “Gun,” definitely the lesser of the three but still equally luring). The rest of the album shows off how much more Chvrches can do. I applaud their atmosphere in their non-hits — this band took a blatant nod from ‘80s synthpop and texture. “Tether,” “Night Sky” and “By the Throat” showcase resonant melodies entrenched in an underlying ambiance.

Not every song on this record is bubbly; the likes of “Lies” and “Science / Visions” are lacking the optimistic hang-ups of a major key. These songs also come off as more complex in their influence and less run-of-the-mill synth-pop but more dance-rock, particularly “Lies,” whose bombarding thump is near reminiscent of the latter-half of LCD Soundsystem’s “Danc Yrself Clean.”

Doherty takes on lead vocal duties for “Under the Tide” and album closer “You Caught the Light” (the mid and final point of the album, respectively) which sort of catches you off guard in the album’s flow. They’re both thematically Chvrches, but supply refreshing moments in the album’s landscape to refocus on the singer.

Chvrches has a more than firm grounding in what makes solid synth-pop. Every song spirals into a masterpiece of swirling, meticulously-keyed melodies that are hard to ignore. In times where electronic textures are becoming ever-present, Chvrches debut record here will surely be a stand out — an album worth coming back to in later years.

 

Grade: B+

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