TITLE: The Bones Of What You Believe
The new CHVRCHES album has received some amazing reviews and I could not agree more. We love this record and hope you will give it a try. Pick up the album on CD or LP, online or at the store, this week for a very very special price.
I hope you enjoy it as much as we do.
CD ON SALE FOR $6.99
LP ON SALE FOR $13.99
LIMITED EDITION HAND NUMBERED LP $16.99
PITCHFORK – 8.5 rating
By Larry Fitzmaurice; September 25, 2013
For two decades, Glasgow’s indie-pop and dance music scenes have run in parallel, with onlya few notable intersections; Chvrches are the latest meeting point. The Scottish trio’s debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe, is a seamless fusion of emotive theatrics, hook-loaded songwriting, and some of the more forward-thinking sonics in electronic music right now. It’s a style that feels very of-the-moment: Chvrches embody what a generation raised on electronic music is looking for in a rock band, taking the danceable textures favored by the Electric Daisy set and applying them to the sweeping songcraft of M83 and Passion Pit.
Unlike those those bands, Chvrches avoid guitars almost entirely, but the hooks on The Bones of What You Believe are indelible regardless of instrumentation, and the sound is immaculate. After Chvrches self-produced the album in band member Iain Cook’s own Glasgow studio, big-deal boards guy Rich Costey (Nine Inch Nails, Rage Against the Machine) handled the mixing; his touch gives these tunes the bright clarity they deserve, with plenty of space for funhouse sonic triggers– processed effects, pitched-down vocal samples, frizzy synth-pad textures. Every note sounds clean and sharp, a necessary corrective to the chemical-dipped wooziness that has dominated electronic indie pop in the last few years.
That sense of precision is unusual for a band this new, but Cook and Martin Doherty, who handle the majority of the instrumentation live and on record, are vets of the Glasgow’s perpetually fertile indie scene. Cook handled guitars and programming as a member of defunct alt-leaning post-rockers Aereogramme, while Doherty was once a live member of throat-shredding shoegazers the Twilight Sad (who launched into their own synth excursions around the time that Chvrches became a full-time concern). Together they make music that complements distinctive vocalists without overshadowing them.
Heard in the context of Glasgow’s still-strong cottage industry of distinctly masculineanguish-rock bands, the emotional palette of Chvrches’ lead singer Lauren Mayberry is a welcome change of pace. A local-band lifer who once pursued a career in music journalism, Mayberry’s voice is a multifaceted instrument, the emotional kernel in Chvrches’ molecular makeup. She can sound cutting, aching, triumphant, fragile, and weightless, sometimes all at once; on “Lies”, she soars above the chorus’ mountainous build, and her vocal surge rescues the murky techno of “Science/Visions”, the closest thing to a miss on this otherwise rock-solid album.
Even when Mayberry’s at her most powerful, her voice possesses a specific, relatable humanity, which brightens the adolescent glow of her lyrics. (Occasional lead singer Doherty, previously the band’s weak link, makes good enough on his two featured songs, the rippling “Under the Tide” and the prom-dance lushness of “You Caught the Light”). Her words might look overwrought on paper, but when set to the emotive sounds that Chvrches trade in, they sound towering, impassioned, and life-affirming. Depeche Mode, a spiritual antecedent, have a classic song with the refrain “All I ever wanted/ All I ever needed/ Is here, in my arms”; that kind of emotional directness and simplicity is a hallmark of the songwriting here.
The Bones of What You Believe also shares some of Depeche Mode’s large-scale ambition: the arpeggiated-synth burst that closes “Tether” sounds like it was orchestrated for the optimal turn-all-the-lasers-on-at-once trigger at a live performance, and it’s all the better for it. Throughout, Chvrches’ effortless populism finds them in a long tradition of bands who take a highly personal sense of turmoil and blow it up onto an arena-sized screen. Granted, recent live performances have suggested that they have a ways to go before their concert-conquering potential catches up with the ability they display on record, such but growing pains are normal for a band this new. For now, on record, Chvrches know how go big on an intimate scale, to remind us of the stuff that keeps us living.
Rolling Stone: 4/5 Stars
“The Bones of What You Believe’
By JON DOLAN
September 24, 2013
Chvrches are the latest in what seems like an endless parade of bands tapping early-Eighties synth pop for inspiration. But not many do it better. Bones is full of incisive, sweeping songs made from last-ditch emotions. Lauren Mayberry belies bright singing with raw-boned lyrics long on stalker romanticism; on “By the Throat,” she sings, “With teeth we’ve come this far/I’ll take this thing by the throat and walk away,” making for a velvet-hammer ballad Katy Perry would love to belt. Even when Chvrches are just competently mopey, their neon-Eighties visions are far from retro pose-striking.
Idolator: 4/5 Stars
Just about a year ago, three unassuming Scots emerged fully formed with a confident synth-pop behemoth called “Lies,” and it was the straight fucking truth. Plenty of new artists can capture pop perfection with one buzzy track, sure. But CHVRCHES did it again on their follow-up (and first official single) “The Mother We Share,” a gem that was as bright and infectious as “Lies” was pounding and confrontational. With that opening combo, CHVRCHES staked their claim as the littlest big synth-pop act of 2013.
Still fresh a year later, both those songs found their way onto the trio’s debut album The Bones Of What You Believe (out September 24), alongside other impossibly melodic, impossibly vibrant bits of poptronica. Each element in every song on this first full-length sounds vital and perfectly mixed: the drums, whether real or digital, land with guttural force and snap with purpose, the vocals bend and chirp at will, the synths slice one moment and melt the next.
The result is something just as urgent and immediate as anything the hordes of laptop-wielding, MPC-mashing DJ/producers are injecting into everything from “Starships” to “Work Bitch” to Flo Rida and the rest, but without any of the tiring histrionics and cliched siren crescendos and boilerplate drops. CHVRCHES avoid these rave-y tropes because they have an ear for ’80s minimalism, and so they’ve managed to meld that decade’s version of pop’s future with EDM’s version of pop’s now. But their greatest trick is that they achieved this balance while slathering their songs with unapologetically catchy, radio-ready hooks. These guys have their cake, and painstakingly decorate it, and eat it.
Part of that ability comes from the versatility offered by Lauren Mayberry‘s voice. There’s a fair amount of acidity and vulnerability in these songs, but her Elvish vocals are either chipper or melancholic, depending on your angle, which begets that “Pumped Up Kicks” effect wherein you don’t even realize what you’re saying as you sing along. (“Gun” opens thusly: “You had better run from me / With everything you own / ‘Cause I am gonna come for you / With all that I have / I am gonna break you down / To tiny, tiny parts.” In someone else’s hands, that’s creepy and psychotic. Here, it’s sweetly menacing, a dare.)
The rich pastel synths only add to this obfuscation, and even when the band takes a darker turn, things that should be abrasive and cold are re-purposed for warmer textures. The post-chorus on “Lungs” comprises a fuzzy, serrated synth line and chopped vocals, but it ends up being thrilling rather than jarring. “Lies” and “Science/Visions” are aggressive, in-your-face synth stomps that take the warped vox and blown-out sonics to full song length. Throw in the bilious lyrics, and it’s a witch’s brew that, through sheer strength of songwriting, they turn into a sweet nectar.
Because CHVRCHES never sacrifice a good melody, there’s not much unpredictability or structural risk-taking here. Even the ballads, for the most part, eventually blossom into blissful anthems (the final third of “Tether” is the best M83 song Anthony Gonzalez never wrote). The number of unexpected moments can be counted on one hand: in addition to “Lungs” as a whole, there’s the 20-second coda of “Night Sky” and the decision to close the album with a subdued, Mayberry-less ballad.
But when the arrangements are so airtight, and the melodies and pacing so damn evocative, there’s not much room, nor need, to deviate. AlunaGeorge earlier this year released a debut that similarly warped sterile electronic sounds into a hooky-yet-clinical pop template with a saccharine vocalist, but their effort seemed hermetic at times. What separates CHVRCHES is their ability to make each song into a high drama, bite-sized epic, with the waves of synths and choruses commanding your emotions like the sorcerer’s apprentice inFantasia.
Even in these poptimistic days, people tend to think that when a pop song is catchy or instantly gratifying, it’s less likely to stand up against deeper analysis, that it’s empty calories. But sometimes you just want a straightforward song that stirs something within you right fucking now and you don’t care why or how it achieves this. The best songs aren’t the ones that require deeper examination, they’re the ones that invite it. And that’s the type of song this band makes — songs you’ll fall for based on completely superficial “ear candy” reasons at first, but that reveal more quirks and substance when revisited (like the water-down-a-grate synths near the end of “We Sink”). CHVRCHES’ songs are exquisitely compressed and layered, but they’re also completely approachable. So you can appreciate The Bones Of What You Believe at face value, just an entertaining flash of activity akin to a flipbook. Or you can really look, to see the detail and expertise that went into the illusion, allowing you to fully appreciate it.
Idolator Score: 4/5
— Carl Williott