Chvrches – Every Open Eye Review

Glasgow’s premier synth-pop outfit Chvrches have released Every Open Eye today as the follow up to their 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe and have spoken about taking “a less is more approach” to their sound for what is the infamous second album. Refining their sound is probably a wise choice as opposed to forcing it upon people again or gambling on unknowns. This album is all about the honing and refinement of their initial sound so with that in mind we can be assured of another solid effort with some subtle improvements with a greater emphasis on the emotive element of their sound. With this in mind, it might not be a musical innovation, but it should remain at least as dynamic and infectious as their debut.

The lead single from the album ‘Leave a Trace’ is indicative of this sees the group sounding leaner, cleaner, more tuneful and direct. The instrumentation performs the same function it did on their earlier material, but are noticeably sharper and more melodic. The same can be said for vocalist Lauren Mayberry who now projects her vocal just as confidently ahead of the instrumentation as opposed to sitting amongst it previously. This emphasises the direct musical route taken here and heightens the focus on the candid and passionate content of the lyrics.  ‘Never Ending Circles’ showcases their pop sensibility and melodic capabilities driven by Lauren Mayberry’s soft, yet driven vocals and vocal instrumentation. This is further pushed by airy trickling electronica in the chorus which is offset with grinding and distorted synths to bridge to the verses. You can sense the development in their sound with their juxtaposition of those industrial sounds with the more pop orientated styles and how they have managed to smooth over the transition between the two is further testament to their growing ability. In ‘Clearest Blue’ they demonstrate the gentle shift in their style in a more prominent fashion with this Dance track. As has been the case with their singles so far this year, they have made their sound leaner, cleaner and more direct, but additionally with this track, they have channelled their more industrial electronic sound into at a rapid pace and it resembles a Dance inspired track with those heavier beats. These are met with the wistful vocals of Lauren Mayberry which go a long way towards making the track more engaging as a piece of energetic pop as opposed to a frigid piece of Dance or Light Techno.

‘Keep You On My Side’ delivers heavy driving beats along with chiming overtones in an effective combination of old  European dance tracks with modern synth pop and with Lauren Mayberry’s assured, yet potent delivery makes for a dramatic and powerful track. It is immaculately produced and balances the heavy with the light brilliantly and plays each tone off each other going on to add a richness to their sound. ‘High Enough To Carry Over’ is a more ballad-inspired track with the soft waves of chiming electronica and a more soulful delivery from Martin Doherty who also provides another marked vocal development. ‘Playing Dead’ is another theatrical piece of melodic synth-pop with powerful vocal deliveries as if from a futuristic musical. It is driven by a rumbling bass line and expanded with strokes of electronica. The other tracks are examples of the group’s sharper and more direct pop sound with varying structures and rhythms. The album ends on ‘Afterglow’ for a rare piece of slow and considered music from the group with whirring organs playing the leading role and largely letting Lauren’s vocals showcase themselves. Occasionally the organs rise in volume and peak opportune moments to maximise the impact of the harmonies on offer. This album is one that shows Chvrches are here to stay and in being smart they’ve produced a more mature and powerful body of music and it is developed in every sense which leaves much promise for their third album.

Chvrches – Every Open Eye = 8/10

Owen Riddle  @oriddleo1995