Named with a V to avoid competing with Jesus for internet hits, CHVRCHES have continued to spark intrigue ever since they appeared on nearly every ‘Ones to Watch’ list at the beginning of the year. Thankfully, like their fellow hyped newcomers AlunaGeorge and Haim, the Scottish trio have delivered on their promise with a debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, which impressively manages to inject something fresh and original into an already overcrowded 80s synth-pop revival scene.
Much of the credit must be handed to frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, a Rachel Leigh Cook lookalike blessed with a Glaswegian accent so thick she makes The Proclaimers sound Shakesperian, armed with a deceptively bloodthirsty way with words which belies her butter-wouldn’t-melt exterior. On the glistening electro of recent single “Gun,” [LISTEN] she threatens to hunt down and maim the former lover who has done her wrong:
Meanwhile, on the emphatic big beats and gothic Tubeway Army-esque synths of “Lies,” [LISTEN] she boasts about her ability to emotionally manipulate men in order to get what she wants; and on the bubbling Moroder-inspired “We Sink,” [LISTEN] she vindictively warns a potentially wandering partner that she’ll remain a thorn in his side should he ever leave.
Not all of the record is as bitterly sociopathic but the prospect of any happy ending largely remains out of reach. On the murky atmospherics of “Tether,” one of the few tracks to bear any traces of the band’s indie past, Mayberry clings onto the dying embers of a relationship for dear life despite the fact that deep down inside she knows it hasn’t got a prayer. While “The Mother We Share,” [LISTEN] a heart-rending tale of sibling rivalry drenched in addictive echo-laden vocal loops, suggests that their dysfunctional streak runs deep:
Despite a brooding vocal presence which on the surface is far more suited to such tales of tortured love, the few distant lights at the end of the tunnel are in fact provided when keyboardist Martin Doherty takes over as frontman, firstly with underdog anthem “Under The Tide” and secondly with the distorted electro-balladry of “You Caught The Light.” But although this more subdued and quietly inspirational approach provides a refreshing change of pace, The Bones Of What You Believe is as its most compelling when it’s at its most vengeful: [LISTEN]