Chvrches, The Bones of What You Believe
Nailing the zeitgeist with enduring, hook-focused songcraft
Chvrches singer Lauren Mayberry and synthesizer/production team Iain Cook and Martin Doherty knocked around the Glasgow indie scene for years in bands like Twilight Sad, Aereogramme and Boyfriend/Girlfriend — respectable and oft-underrated outfits that often hewed close to the Scottish stereotype of cathartic mope-rock. Having finally scored a hit that makes people sing along happily (“The Mother We Share”), they’ve decided they’re not going to blow it. Their debut, The Bones of What You Believe, is subtly ambitious in the same way their arena-aspiring heroes (Depeche Mode, Tears for Fears) were: Mayberry’s laser-guided melodies cut through glass, the synthesizers are rendered with pristine neon clarity rather than the imploded fog that marks the “synth-pop” of today.
The trio also shows their old-school roots by making Bones a true album experience. Sure, the hit singles (“The Mother We Share,” “Gun” and “Recover”) are included, but they’re sequenced perfectly throughout so that new favorites can emerge, whether it’s the jet-propelled “Night Sky,” “Tether”‘s moody balladry or even the two Doherty-fronted songs, which show that Chvrches aren’t just “Lauren Mayberry and the two dudes in hats.” The result nails the zeitgeist on pretty much all fronts — the stylization of the band name, the anonymity blog hype to quasi-major-label-signing to presence in what will surely be a ton of ads for high-end consumer products. With all that said, it’s almost certainly going to sound as good in 20 years as it does now because Chvrches’ attention to enduring, hook-focused songcraft ensures it would’ve sounded great in 2003 or 1993 or 1983.