If you’ve ever wondered what would happen if Carly Rae Jepsen was the lead singer of New Order, you’ll probably really like Chvrches.
The Scottish trio’s 2013 debut, The Bones of What You Believe, was a smooth and atmospheric burst of synthesizers and coolness. It had lyrics of gothic love and brashness that entranced romantics along with advanced beats beyond dumb-EDM that earned them their indie-alternative cred, but something beneath songs like “The Mother We Share,” “We Sink,” “Night Sky,” and “Recover” signaled a deep passion for pop.
Singer Lauren Mayberry came off as a forward-thinking feminist and has a commanding presence onstage, yet she sounds like a mall-pop singer from the 80s, like Robin Sparkles from How I Met Your Mother if she took herself seriously (and switched accents from Canadian to Scottish). No matter how cool alternative and indie bands try to be or for how long, the lure of the pop hook can’t be ignored forever. Fortunately, Chvrches know how to keep their souls intact.
Every Open Eye is the band’s second album, which comes a mere two years after their stellar debut, and, if you don’t know who Chvrches are, they’ll make sure you will by the end of the record. All 11 tracks burst with a bright energy that’s too infectious to ignore. Whereas Bones built a mood akin to the score for movies like Drive or Lost in Translation, Every Open Eye sounds like it could be played in an arena to 50,000 people with every single attendee shaking and dancing around like no one’s business.
Iain Cook and Martin Doherty create more solid beats and multi-layered synths that illuminate each song. The synth duo and their feisty lead singer still have incredible chemistry, as on lead single “Leave A Trace,” where each member makes enough room for each other to make their impression on a song. Despite the four-on-the-floor beats Cook and Doherty make on “Empty Threat” and “Clearest Blue,” Mayberry keeps up with it and builds with energy the music creates. Not to mention the energy the band and the songs give off, which could probably light up New York City for the album’s tight 42-minute run time. Even on slow-burners like “Afterglow” and “Down Side Of Me,” there’s a big beating heart that bursts through each song. Hearing the whole album on repeat may get tiresome after a while since most of the songs have the same energy, but the individual songs on shuffle in playlists of other stuff will surely get the party going.
And if you thought it’s a bad idea to piss off Taylor Swift, the same warning should be given in regards to Mayberry. “Playing Dead” has Mayberry marking her territory triumphantly with “You can tell me to move and I won’t go/You can tell me to try and I won’t go.” Things keep rolling with “Bury It,” as Mayberry wants to take all her failures in a desire to “bury it and rise above” before shouting “BURY IT” repeatedly with the heavy synths backing up her charge. Mayberry manages to make her high-pitched voice sound so triumphant, like she’s always crossing the finish line at an Olympic event every time she hits the chorus. She takes a singing break on “High Enough To Carry You Over,” an 80s club song that thinks it’s a disco song that feels strangely out of place here and would be better on The Weeknd’s new album.
The musical balance between chilled-out and danceable vibes on Bones is a tad missed on Every Open Eye but then again, it feels necessary. Chvrches are trying to prove that they’re no indie fluke and really go for the jugular on the new record. For the most part, they pull it off in spades. Every Open Eye is super danceable synth-pop while still being Chvrches’ signature musical delivery. If Bones was Chvrches sticking their foot in the door, Every Open Eye is the band punching through the rest of the door and strutting into the cool kids’ party.