Record review: CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe [Virgin/Goodbye]

chvrches-the-bones-of-what-you-believeGlasgow synth-pop trio CHVRCHES have only been around for a year, yet their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, has been hotly anticipated by all of music’s big wigs.

I may not be a big wig, but I can confirm that the hype is completely justified.

Lead singer, Lauren Mayberry’s staccato vocals introduce ‘The Mother We Share’, quickly followed by claps, electronic drums, buzzing synth and syncopated male backing vocals from guitarist Martin Doherty and synth player Iain Cook.

The first verse alludes to the depth of Mayberry’s soft, angelic vocals, slightly contrasting with the fierce lyrics, confirmed by her performance of the totally electric chorus.

“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.”

‘We Sink’ has an opening riff that could be mistaken for an arcade game soundtrack: fast-paced and repetitive.

Rhythmic vocals, electro synth and a quick bass melt together to create something that sounds both retro and futuristic.

Twinkling melody and powerful synth surge in to ‘Gun’.

“You had better run from me with everything you own, ’cause I am gonna come for you with all that I have.”

Mayberry’s seemingly gentle vocals immediately demand as much respect and authority as booming notes from the likes of Aretha Franklin.

Pace slows and mood shifts for ‘Tether’; electric guitars dominate for the first time, coupled with angst-filled vocals.

CHVRCHES’ signature synth and electro beat kick in for the chorus, but a melancholy mood remains.

An a Capella bridge showcases Mayberry’s stunning soft yet shaky voice, then full force electronics push in to an anthemic end.

A full on 80’s feel to ‘Lies’, but a Glasgow accent and piercing vocals keep it so cool and current.

Another arcade intro to ‘Under The Tide’, but this time Doherty’s echoed vocals take the lead; a warm, slightly gravelly voice with a tone and twang reminiscent of James Blake.

The song, a mix of heartache fuelled emotion and carefree dance vibes, is a definite highlight from the album.

“Carved earth cold, hiding from you in this skin so old”: Mayberry’s strong yet fragile vocals blast back in to centre stage for hit single ‘Recover’.

‘Night Sky’ is the perfect soundtrack to a midnight drive, syncopated beat, chiming melody and a siren-like voice explodes in to a rock-funk-electronic fusion of crashing drums, buzzing synth and wailing vocals.

Male backing vocals join Mayberry in the second verse, conversing back and forth.

‘Lungs’ is the punchiest pop track on the album, with deep beats and upbeat melodies, partnered with angry lyrics about a break up.

“We are done this time.  You don’t owe me.  Take a final look at me; take it and drink it in.”

Mayberry’s vocals in parts of ‘By The Throat’ have a tone like that of Vukovi lead singer, Janine Shilstone, and with electronic drums, layered synth chords, and almost whispering male backing vocals; this is another power pop offering from the album.

An epic, slightly distorted guitar riff and slow, rock ballad drumbeat introduces final track, ‘You Caught The Light’.

Light, near instrumental sounding vocals float in, along with a triumphant major key synth melody.

All but moody bass chords and an electronic beat remain while Doherty’s solo vocals ring out; the full instrumental outfit lulls in and out, letting Doherty’s vocals dominate, then crashing back in for the fully monumental sound.

The Bones of What You Believe is the perfect juxtaposition; it mixes the fierce with the fragile, the twisted with the timid.

This whole thing has come from only one year’s work – I think we can expect a lot more genius from CHVRCHES.

Words: Jess Brown

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