Happiness

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Album of the week : The Bones Of What You Believe - Chvrches

Arriving after a year’s worth of anticipation that included plenty of blogger appreciation, several EPs, and inclusion in the BBC’s Sound of 2013 shortlist, Chvrches’ debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, surpasses the significant hype surrounding it. Many of these songs already appeared on those buzz-building EPs, most notably ‘The Mother We Share’, ‘Gun’, and ‘Recover’, all of which exemplify the Glasgow trio’s way with frosty synths and poignant melodies. Taken as an album, though, they’re greater than their parts

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

That style and precision is unusual for a band this new, but Iain 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. Together they make music that complements distinctive vocalists without overshadowing them

And what a vocalist! A large part of their appeal comes from Lauren Mayberry’s voice. Mayberry’s dynamic lyricism and sprightly delivery is the x-factor that propels much of Chvrches’ work from humdrum dance floor fodder to stratospheric anthem status. She punches well above her weight, taking emotive twists with simple changes in tone. The Bones of What You Believe isn’t all glimmer and sugar though. Beneath the polished electropop exterior, is a tangled knot of psychopathic tendencies, insecurities, and introspective moments

On ‘Gun’, a track brimming with thinly-veiled menace, Mayberry becomes unhinged, hurling phrases such as “I will be a gun / And it’s you I’ll come for,” before taking cover behind glittering crenellations until the next assault. ‘Recover’ is a coruscating cry for help, and one of the first glimpses Mayberry allows of a chink in her armour. ‘Tether’ is a sprawling epic that expands from despondent guitar licks into a colossal wave of power pop synthesizers, reflecting the inner process of mustering the fortitude to sever a detrimental tie. ‘We Sink’ is a high-octane ode to persistent, dysfunctional love. “I’ll be a thorn in your side, ‘til you die / I’ll be a thorn in your side, for always,” Mayberry intones, not intending to surrender anytime soon. For a sugary-sweet dismissal of a former flame, look no further than the hopscotch beats and Mayberry’s dulcet vocals on ‘Lungs’

Occasional lead singer Martin Doherty, offer pleasant respites from Mayberry’s intensity on his two featured songs, the rippling ‘Under the Tide’ and the prom-dance lushness of ‘You Caught the Light’

Chvrches embrace big sounds and feelings without a trace of irony, whether it’s massive drums on ‘Tether’ or Mayberry’s pleas to “make me blind so I don’t ever look back” on the slow-building ‘Night Sky’. Even on the darkest moments, such as ‘Lies’ or ‘Science/Visions’, there’s a disarming emotional directness to The Bones of What You Believe that makes it a unique, fully realised take on a style that seemed close to being played out

Buy it here

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