CHVRCHES (pronounced “Churches”), an electronic indie-pop trio from Scotland, released their first album in 2013.
The Bones of What You Believe was a fun but fairly simple record that proved that the group had potential. Their new album, Every Open Eye, proves they are here to stay.
Lyrically and instrumentally, Every Open Eye diversifies CHVRCHES’ repertoire and gives listeners more to delve into than the songs from Bones.
The songs on Bones are a bit thematically disjointed, operating better as a collection of singles than as a cohesive package. Every Open Eye, on the other hand, walks listeners through a powerful 11-song breakup story.
The album opener, “Never Ending Circles,” finds the narrator giving initial threats and arguments with their partner. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice soars in the chorus, singing “if you want another, say you need another.”
The album progresses through a series of accusations and introspections. The narrative ends on a somber but hopeful note with “Afterglow.”
The narrator finally accepts the relationship’s end and is willing to “wait for the afterglow to cover the blind side.”
The progression of the story is met with a progression of musical tone. Early songs on Every Open Eye are reminiscent of songs from Bones. Fans of indie electronic bands, such as Passion Pit or some of the newer work by Metric and Walk the Moon, will feel very comfortable with the techno beats and the strong synthesizer influence.
While many of the album’s early songs are more like dance music, the later songs are more pensive
Much of Every Open Eye’s second half feels like new territory for CHVRCHES. The new album allows the slower songs to maintain their more somber tones and larger focus on vocals and lyrics.
It also gives the album more diversity as a whole, keeping it from feeling like eleven singles simply packaged together.
The thematic change also gives Lauren Mayberry more room to mature as a vocalist. Songs from Bones, such as “Gun and Night Sky,” proved Mayberry had the vocal range and power necessary to be a top contender in the genre.
Even so, her voice feels more refined in Every Open Eye, allowing her to display the larger range of emotions the theme and lyrics demand. This especially comes through in the second half’s more introspective songs, such as “Down Side of Me.” Fans of female-driven pop outfits like MisterWives will find that Mayberry is a force to be reckoned with.
The last two years have been very good to CHVRCHES. Perhaps not in terms of personal relationships, if the album is any indication, but in musical growth and accomplishment.
The ‘sophomore slump’ is famously dreaded by many bands, especially those with as explosive an entrance into the music scene as CHVRCHES made in 2013. Every Open Eye showcases a band that has managed to overcome that dread.
New listeners will find that Every Open Eye has lyrical depth and narrative complexities, as well as plenty of dance-worthy electronic instrumentals.
Old fans will find that Every Open Eye is still the indie electronica they fell in love with, but more confident, more nuanced and more cohesive.
Whether the listener has been waiting for ten minutes or two years to hear the album, every open eye looking on CHVRCHES will be impressed.