Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe – album review and looking ahead

Seeing as Chvrches inspired me to write on this blog again I thought it was appropriate to make their (currently) one and only album the first record I review here. It’s good timing too as the band have just announced they’ve started recording ‘finalised vocal parts for a song on album two’ with a photo of typically wide-eyed lead singer, Lauren Mayberry in case we weren’t sure what that might look like.

lauren recording

Lauren in the studio (which I believe is someone’s basement)

Moreover, it’s probably good for my health to write this now because I’ve been listening to songs from The Bones of What You Believe every day for about two weeks and I surely need a bit more variety in my musical diet. I’ve even bought the album on iTunes and vinyl! One of the key draws of the album are the interesting lyrics. The band say in YouTube videos they write the lyrics together. I believe Lauren plays a big part in this process though and her personality appears to show through these words. She, Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are, however, insistent in interviews that it’s a band and they’re all on an even footing. Everyone contributes to each song and no song belongs to any one of them. On first listen of album opener, The Mother We Share, you can definitely feel the cool, exciting chill of a novel sound in the warm veins of your stomach. And Mayberry’s Scot accent-gilded, honest and charming vocals confirm this is a band that will stand out. You’ll instantly recognise Chvrches if you hear them today, tomorrow or in 20 years’ time. And though the band come across really well in interviews and seem genuinely lovely people, it’s not all happy happy on their debut album. Songs, such as Gun and Lies – a favourite of many Chvrches fans – show there are deeper, darker layers Lauren, Iain and Martin can delve in to if they so wish. These are mature adults who have presumably been through the mill – they have life experiences, rosy and also murky, to draw on and this comes across. Lauren says Lungs is probably her favourite song on the album because of its ‘twisted’ lyrics which provides a ‘nice juxtaposition’ to other songs on the record. There’s something in Lauren’s voice too that’s hard to explain. It’s kind on the ears, yes, but there’s a quality, a magic about it that’s spell-binding and almost frightening. And it’s this, meandering around Iain and Martin’s soulful synths, that keep me listening over and over.

When I finally had a copy of the album rather than just listening to the songs I already knew on YouTube, tracks that Martin provides vocals for stood out more and more.

Under the Tide benefits from the change of pace Martin’s voice brings and you realise the guy on the keys can really sing!

Iain says when the band strike on an ‘awesome’ tune they have a ‘studio moment’ and get all excited. He says, ‘that feeling drives me still. I don’t think I could get bored of that moment’. Iain and Martin got together before working with Lauren and clearly have a closeness. All three of them have great chemistry though. Some songs on the album, like The Mother We Share and Lies, are so memorable I sometimes kid myself in to thinking it’s just a good album with one or two really good tracks but then I hear We Sink and Lungs, I can’t get them out of my head the next day and I realise The Bones of What You Believe is impressively well-rounded for a debut album. I shouldn’t forget all three of them have vast musical experience playing instruments and being in other bands though. It’ll be interesting to see if the band’s live performances will change with their second album. When you watch Chvrches’ older shows online and compare them to more recent stuff Lauren visibly becomes more confident and her cracking sense of humour shines through in her ‘patter’ in between songs. I’m dreading the day one of the trio goes all Liam Gallagher on us and lets big crowds and success go to their heads. Martin even said in an interview with the BBC at the end of 2012 (facetiously): “I’m surprised the band got to any sort of level because if you’d asked me to go in a basement with a couple of beardie weirdos I’d have definitely said no.” Thankfully, Lauren struggles to grow a goatee! With some exciting appearances coming up for the band in places as far-flung as Canada for Ottawa Bluesfest and Pemberton Music Festival and Chicago for Pitchfork Music Festival, and closer to me and other Europeans in Belgium for Pukkelpop and Chelmsford/ Stafford (England) for V Festival, replaying The Bones of What You Believe or grabbing a copy if you haven’t already, could be the perfect way to pass the time before seeing the band live.

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