chvrches are a shining example of how the internet can fuel a band’s success in all the right ways. since their formation just a couple of years ago, the glasgow trio have released a rapid-fire stream of singles and eps, all leading towards their debut full-length album, the bones of what you believe. using powerful, hook-laden singles like “recover” and “the mother we share” as reference points – but not pillar points – across the album, chvrches have created a body of work that increases the relevancy of 1980s-influenced synth-pop in today’s indie realm.
the a-side of the bones of what you believe is positively loaded with spectacular songs; “the mother we share” might get much-deserved attention solely due to the amount of time it’s been circulating blogs, but that’s just the starting point. both “gun” and “lies” are stronger compositionally, and the mid-tempo feel of the latter proves that chvrches aren’t just committed to churning out upbeat pop anthems. lauren mayberry’s voice is crystal clear in timbre and purely innocent in nature, but her handoffs to iain cook make the band that much more impressive; the programmer’s lead vocal stints on “under the tide” and “you caught the light” come on understated tracks that somehow feel like appropriate ways to end each side of the album.
one of the dangers in stacking an a-side is that the flip side of a record will inevitably be weaker. while chvrches follow a somewhat formulaic approach to the b-side of the bones of what you believe, the songs still manage to hold their own. again building off the familiarity of “recover,” the trio ventures through the straight-ahead “night sky” before landing on “science/visions,” the only track on the album that takes a couple of listens to get on board with. chvrches’ most intriguing song is found deep into the album and again sees the band taking advantage of a more laid-back feel; “lungs” relies fully on the combination of syncopation and extremely gritty bass sounds to groove, which works really well.
although somewhat derivative and predictable, chvrches’ debut effort is a fun listen with positive attributes at nearly every turn. fans of chairlift’s something will feel right at home here, but this is an album everyone should familiarize themselves with; chvrches will be around for quite awhile.