CHVRCHES created viral exhilaration in the world of music blogs with singles such as “The Mother We Share” and “Recover.” After that, the electro-pop trio from Scotland became one of the most anticipated acts of 2013.
However, with their first EP released in March and their first LP released now, six months later, one has to wonder if the hype rushed the release. The verdict? It certainly feels like it. All four of the singles they had prior to this album were within the first seven tracks, separated by one song each. The good news is that the first eight tracks are fantastic and absolutely worthy of the praise they have been given.
The bad news is that the rest of the album does not follow suit, perhaps with the exception of “By the Throat,” suggesting that a bit of front-loading happened. “Science/Visions” kicks off the second half of the album and comes off like a bad attempt at being The Knife or Crystal Castles. “Lungs” continues the suffocation, with a sound comparable to The Naked and Famous’ recent sophomore effort. To end the album, “You Caught the Light” is an anthem that would have played for the homecoming king and homecoming queen at an ’80s dance or maybe from the boombox in “Say Anything” (not that there’s a problem with that — it’s just not worth calling a visionary record). Anyone venturing to listen to the deluxe edition is punished with two more mediocre offerings, with “Broken Bones” in particular breaking The Bones. Ultimately, a bait-and-switch.
The energy suddenly becomes half-assed, like the remnants of a karaoke bar as it is collectively sobering up.
That same energy seems to be missing from their live performances. Perhaps this is in part due to the fact that the album was mixed masterfully by the legendary Rich Costey (whose credits include The Shins, Muse and Nine Inch Nails). Lauren Mayberry’s voice and the surrounding instrumentation are in unison throughout the album, but there have been issues replicating that in concert (and one quick YouTube search will confirm it).
Despite that, they are still a promising band whose songs will undoubtedly find plenty of radio time. There are moments where CHVRCHES deliver divine intervention to an otherwise overpopulated, repetitive electro-pop genre. Regrettably, the hype may have rushed them into debuting with the bones of what you believed would be a full-bodied, cohesive album.