It feels almost like it was yesterday that Scottish electro pop trio Chvrches emerged on to the scene, arriving with a whole barrage of their pop bangers in their repertoire. Having release debut album The Bones of What You Believe back in 2013, the Lauren Mayberry-fronted trio are now back with their sophomore effort Every Open Eye. Although it’s not a brand new direction for the three-piece, it still is another reaffirming collection of music which cements Chvrches’ status as world beaters. Read on for a full album review.
The record opens on the pulsating synths of Never Ending Circles, which pulsates along with effortless Chvrches swagger. The opening beats are reminiscent of older track Lies, although this time round the song focuses more on anthemia as opposed to power. “Here’s to taking what you came for, and here’s to running off the pain” sings Mayberry during the chorus, with her sickly sweet vocals wrapping nicely around Iain Cook and Martin Doherty’s instrumentals. Lead single Leave a Trace follows, encompassing more danceable rhythms and electronic swooshes which are extremely reminiscent of Chvrches’ earlier work. Even though the band haven’t gone for a brand new sound, they still effortlessly manage to sound fresh and reinvigorated on whatever they produce. Keep You On My Side introduces itself with a looped drum pattern akin to Disclosure, before Mayberry’s voice breaks up the sequence and makes way for a pulsating drum beat. “Every human touch will be repaid” she sings ahead of the chorus, one which is every inch the 80s banger and stadium anthem it sets out to be from the start. The chorus is underpinned by an eerie piano melody, handclap beats and arpeggios, all of which combine for an absolute album highlight.
Just when you think that Keep You On My Side was an absolute banger, Make Them Gold does the exact same thing and comes along to destroy any expectations you had about the rest of the record. Mayberry’s vocals fluctuate between sickly sweet and anthemic here, although it’s also very evident that Cook and Doherty’s instrumentals are at an all-time strong point. “We will take the best parts of ourselves and make them gold” sings Mayberry ahead of the breakdown, with bubbly synths being incorporated along the way. Recent track Clearest Blue follows, incorporating yet more pulsating drum beats and wispy synth-based melodies. It’s definitely starting to become a tried and tested formula, although that doesn’t make it any less encapsulating than it already is. Chvrches could churn out the same record for years and they would still sound as interesting as before. “Please say you’ll meet me halfway” begs Mayberry during the first verse, before the chorus sees the return of the pre-recorded vocal chants which were scattered across their 2013 debut. Clearest Blue is a slow burner, yet don’t let its upbeat pace fool you. It explodes just after its halfway point, morphing into a ferocious electro pop smasher which could be more than ready to obliterate club nights the world over.
After the high of Clearest Blue, High Enough to Carry You Over makes for a breather in which vocal duties are helmed by Martin Doherty. “I never would’ve given you up” proclaims Doherty during the chorus, which is quite subdued in comparison to the rest of the album. Instrumentally, the track is left grounded by a waspy synth line and slowed down drum beat, the latter of which really helps carry the track across. Towards the end, the track builds up slightly before slightly failing to reach an impressive climax. Empty Threat brings the album back up to a positive note, encompassing upbeat synth lines and Mayberry’s euphoric sounding vocals. The chorus is predictably huge, although it’s not the most euphoric moment on the whole record. It doesn’t make the track any less exciting, though, because Empty Threat is more focussed on being a fun track than being an instrumentally invigorating one. Down Side of Me, on the other hand, incorporates more interesting instrumental sounds and tones, such as vocoder-laden vocals and eerie percussive segments. The track sees both Doherty and Cook underpin Mayberry’s vocals during the chorus, although despite this the track still remains quite downbeat.
Playing Dead bears all the ingredients of a powerful banger, although from the off it’s very clear that this isn’t the aim as Mayberry employs a more demure vocal tone. The track sounds like a happy song doing its best to sound sad, and it’s safe to say that Chvrches did a pretty good job at it. “No more distractions and no more staying still” sings Mayberry during the second verse, before penultimate track Bury It encompasses gritty opening chords and poppy percussion. The instrumentation harks back to the early Chvrches days, something in particular down to the chorus’ vibrant vocal effects. A post-chorus instrumental flourish helps the track become extremely catchy, making it one of the most exciting songs on the record. Every Open Eye comes to a close on Afterglow, which kicks off in demure fashion. “All of the black and white, all of the colours are lied out in front of me now” sings Mayberry during the first verse, before she references lead single Leave a Trace. Her vocals are accompanied by hopeful sounding synths which slowly build up to create a glowing intro. The only problem with Afterglow, though, is that it sounds like the intro has gone on forever. The track stays quite stagnant and does nothing as an album closer other than add a pensive sense of loss to proceedings. Having said that, though, Every Open Eye is by far a fantastic record which has once again proven Chvrches’ ability to thrive on whatever they have at their disposal, and create a fantastic end product.
Every Open Eye is out on Friday (25 September) via Universal Music. Listen to Never Ending Circles below.