Critical Voices: Chrvches, The Bones of What You Believe

September 26, 2013

A tumultuous lovers’ quarrel is not often told in such beautiful, cheerful tones. On their first full-length release, The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches delivers the enthralling narrative of a failing relationship, dragging the listener through pain and loathing with a charming, electro-pop sound.

When the punchy drum line hits beneath the initial glistening chord on “The Mother We Share,” the Scottish trio has their listeners hooked. This foot-tapping start is quickly elevated by Lauren Mayberry’s poppy vocals, which prove to be the alluring thread that ties the album together. Coupled with upbeat instrumentals, Mayberry dives right into her story of heartbreak and abandonment, describing the despair her relationship has caused.

Mayberry’s pain turns to anger in the vengeful lyrics delivered in the otherwise lighthearted synth-pop tune “Gun.” This aggression contradicts the youthful vocals and the track’s thumping synthesized accompaniment. “I’ll be a gun and it’s you I’ll come for,” she threatens.

The dissonance between the poppy, Cindy Lauper-influenced vocals and the heavy lyrics hinders the sincerity of the story being developed. Chvrches have sugarcoated the gloomy emotion of their songs, turning each one into an energetic jam. This, while high in entertainment value, distracts listeners from the lyrical plot.

“Under the Table” introduces Iain Cook’s vocals, which offer the contrasting perspective on the turbulent romance. This unexciting filler is eventually tossed aside by the invigorating track, “Recover.” Mayberry’s lively voice and the trotting synth are more fitting in this hopeful song, in which Cook’s character is offered another chance to fix the relationship.

This lyrical tone doesn’t last long, however, as the lovers’ tale falls back into sadness. Both voices weigh in on their failing relationship atop similarly peppy tunes. The album comes to a close in “You Caught The Light,” a somber song with fittingly reflective instrumentals. Cook’s lethargic vocals complement the despairing feeling of loss in his lyrics.

Chvrches’ debut effort introduces a playful, 80s-tinged sound that offers an entertaining and easy listen. As their sound matures, it will undoubtedly concretize and lose its contradiction, making Chvrches a unique and welcome addition to the slew of new electro-pop artists.

Voice’s Choices: “The Mother We Share,” “Gun”

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