Emerging Artists: CHVRCHES

chvrches I KNOW that, as a critic, I am often prone to hyperbole but I hope as a reader you’ll allow me this one digression as The Bones of What You Believe might be the best British début since Arctic Monkeys’ Whatever People Say, That’s What I’m Not. CHVRCHES (pronounced churches; just go with it) are a three piece from Glasgow. Having suddenly sprung onto the scene earlier this year with album opener and possible single of the year ‘The Mother We Share’, the band seemed fully formed, displaying a knack for synth pop that delivered the fragile romanticism of their 80s forebears whilst maintaining their own modern twists.

The album is a masterclass in warm electronica. Like Brian Eno and very few others, they take the difficult challenge of making a near entirely electronic album yet maintaining a sense of humanity. From the whirring hums and crackling vocoders of ‘Lungs’ through the bombastic dancefloor filler ‘Lies’ with its Arthur Russell-esque string riff, the album is constantly inventive and exciting in its use of instrumentation.

The band’s real trump card is the vocal stylings of Lauren Mayberry. Too often with bands we hear the lead singer cover up their accent and Americanise their pronunciations; whilst I am a fan of Biffy Clyro, they are a big purveyor of this phenomenon. It’s because of this that it’s so refreshing and endearing that CHVRCHES do not attempt to hide their Scottish roots. Lauren’s vocals soar above the record; somehow simultaneously powerful and fragile, her voice aches and yearns with all the level of sincerity that is required for songs like second single and constant earworm ‘Recover’.

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The album suffers from an extended length. The aforementioned ‘Lungs’ is the tenth track and a perfect finale, sadly it is followed by two more tracks which, while pleasant in their own ways, only serve to dilute what came before it. It feels like a slight waver in confidence, as if they were worried that the album had to be over forty minutes. It is possible that the album could divide opinion, especially on more dissonant tracks like ‘Science & Vision’, but it is refreshing to see a young band shamelessly producing pop music while not seeming too worried about pleasing everyone.

Any début should serve as a mission statement. It should announce that the band have arrived and are not going anywhere. CHVRCHES are here and they’ve made something they are clearly proud of and after this I hope the only place they are going is further up.  I really don’t know how to finish this review so just go and buy the album. Now. You’ll thank me for it.