I’d really been looking forward to the new Chvrches albums. Readers of this blog will know I loved the first album, “The Bones of What You Believe” – it was was my top album of 2013. Quite a long time ago. Since then Chvrches have been building up a following the traditional way – gigging and then gigging some more. Especially in the USA. A business strategy has clearly been in place here. And why not? If you make music you want it to be heard and you want to make a living out of it.
Chvrches’ attraction in that first album was its combination of eighties electro sounds and melodies allied with a modern indie feel and, of course, the voice of Lauren Mayberry, which floated delicately but effortlessly over the whole thing. And as I listened more to the whole album it grew and grew on me, different songs became favourites. It was a joy to listen to. Always uplifting.
So, what of the new album, “Every Open Eye”? It came out at the end of September but I got it a couple of weeks ago. I’ve listened all the way through three or four times, no more. So my first impressions are more of the same, maybe a bit poppier than before, and because it’s not that different in style and not better, not as exciting as it might have been. It starts with a bang as all good pop albums do – and until you look at the band you’d call them pop rather than indie now – with the three best tracks, on early listens, the first three. “Never Ending Circles” rumbles on like one of the great tracks on the first album, “Lies”. “Leave a Trace” is just a great pop song, and has a video that got some people a bit worked up. They seemed to object that Lauren, indie goddess, but also a forthright defender of women against the Twitter trolls, had agreed to be filmed in a short black dress and, unusually for Chvrches, on her own. What a ridiculous fuss! It’s pop music. Image matters. Elvis was about image. The Beatles were. So were The Clash. Everyone. Image always has mattered, always will. Chvrches, like any band, will make the best use of what they have. And Lauren Mayberry is a potential star beyond indie confines.
Here’s that video.
And then the third track, “Keep You on my Side”, which is the one that has jumped up and hit me in the face on the first listen. It’s just a great banging eighties-style disco anthem with a massively rousing chorus. I’m surprised it hasn’t been a single yet.
The rest is good but, apart from maybe “Empty Threat”, which could fill the dancefloor, I’ve yet to get the full flavour of the album. Sometimes these things take time and Chvrches are a band whose music I will give lots of time to.
If you get the deluxe version you get, amongst other things, “Get Away”, which came out in 2014. Another fine pop song.
I suppose the dilemma now for Chvrches is do they stick to the electro indie or go absolutely into mainstream pop? Will they ever quite appeal to the teens as opposed to the older students? No idea! But I think they are a band that is thinking about how they build a mainstream following. Gigging massively in America and writing great pop melodies with an eighties touches isn’t a bad plan. But Lauren will be key to the crossover, like it or not. Just think Debbie Harry and Blondie in the seventies. Who remembers the blokes?
Not making any judgements. Just pop reality.