ALBUM REVIEW: CHVRCHES – The Bones Of What You Believe

The Bones Of What You Believe artwork
The Bones Of What You Believe artwork

Screen Shot 2013-07-14 at 11.36.33 AM


ALBUM The Bones Of What You Believe

LABEL Glassnote

RELEASE DATE 23 September 2013

8.3 | 10

It seems to be happening more and more nowadays. As discovering new music becomes increasingly easier, it’s nearly impossible for a band to wade their way through the industry in a discreet manner. So is the case with CHVRCHES, the Scottish trio featuring members Lauren Mayberry, Iain Cook, and Martin Doherty, who exploded onto the music scene with 2012’s excellent “The Mother We Share.” The infectious single immediately made CHVRCHES one of the bands to watch for in 2013, and they make good on their early potential, crafting one of the most enjoyable synth-pop albums of the year in The Bones Of What You Believe.

The most striking thing while listening to CHVRCHES’ debut LP is how confident it is, even during it’s fumbles (which aren’t many). The production is top-notch, with each song having it’s own distinctive sound. Perhaps the most illuminating aspect of The Bones Of What You Believe is Mayberry’s ability to create memorable, compelling melodies. On “Lies,” she enticingly sings, “I can sell you lies / you can’t get enough.” And then I immediately hit repeat. Later on, with the equally catchy “Night Sky,” Mayberry, who exudes such an innocent naïveté throughout the album with her fantastic vocal delivery, proves to be a stronger force than one would expect. She opens “Sky” by singing, “I will carry you and give you life / I will cover you and show you the way / It’s a sequence that you never learned / It’s a lesson I’ll never forget.” She behaves in an equally reactive and reactionary way, a type of passionate passivity that is thrilling to hear on record.

The trembling bass that underlines sections of “Gun” aids in giving the song higher stakes, with Mayberry’s gorgeously childlike vocals, where she sings, “I’ll be a gun / and it’s you I’ll come for,” becoming a more devastating musical instrument than could have been expected. “By The Throat” successfully makes use of the dynamic boy-girl vocal potential, with the band trading in the cold Scottish terrain for a more tropical feel. It’s telling that the lone faults in The Bones Of What You Believe occur when Mayberry takes a backseat on vocals, allowing Iain Cook and Martin Doherty to take hold of the reigns. Unfortunately, their turn at lead, on “Under The Tide” and “You Caught The Light” find CHVRCHES at their most aimless. Gorgeous synthesizers make “Tide” a slightly better tune than “Light,” yet rather unimpressive lyrics take the wind out from beneath “Tide”’s sails.

“Tether” is by far the most monumental moment of the album, with it’s climax being one of the most heartbreaking, powerful moments in music this year. Over towering synths, Mayberry wistfully sings, “I feel incapable of / Seeing the end / I feel incapable of / Saying it’s over.” For someone who spends a lot of time on the album expressing her strength, it’s striking to hear Mayberry with her armor down. So while she might not be able to see the end, her ability to admit as much, and to march ahead towards that growing uncertainty, will serve her and the rest of CHVRCHES well in the future, both near and far.

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