The Scottish band Chvrches burst onto the scene in 2013 with the release of its much-anticipated debut album, The Bones of What You Believe. Lauren Mayberry’s flute-like voice, floating effortlessly over glimmering synthesizers and driving electronic beats, quickly gathered a large following, and the album received critical praise. Now Chvrches is back with its sophomore effort, Every Open Eye.
This time around, the members of Chvrches are seasoned songwriters, and they know what delivers best live. After the release of their first album, they toured ceaselessly, playing 364 shows in two years.
While Every Open Eye is full of tracks that show they’ve got the formula down, it feels a little bland as a result. The fresh, sincere enthusiasm of The Bones of What You Believe is lost in the band’s desire to crowd please. While Every Open Eye still a solid, enjoyable synth-pop album, the sophomore work’s overall feeling is that Chvrches has just gone and made its first album over again, but without the youthful spark that first made the band’s music so captivating.
This is not to say that Every Open Eye lacks any redemptive moments. “Leave a Trace” made waves as the album’s first single with a catchy hook, flourishing production and bitter lyrics asserting an unapologetic attitude in the aftermath of a relationship. Mayberry sings, “You think I’ll apologize for things I left behind / But you got it wrong.” This lyrical theme of self-reliance and confidence is an ever-present on the album. In “Never-Ending Circles,” Mayberry declares her resolve to stay true to herself, singing, “Here’s to taking what you came for / And here’s to running off the pain.” She refuses to answer to anyone but herself, and she won’t let anyone take her independence away from her.
Aside from these powerful lyrical statements of self-assertion, many songs on the album fall flat. Tracks such as “Keep You on My Side” and “Make Them Gold” are fun and digestible enough but fail to do anything interesting. The hooks feel recycled from previous songs, and the lyrics are fairly generic. The chorus of “Make Them Gold” feels forced with pop cliches, including lines such as, “We will take the best parts of ourselves / And make them gold.”
The repetitiveness and unoriginality of Chvrches’ sophomore album is a bit disappointing after the freshness of its dazzling debut, but it’s not a total flop. The songs will serve to satisfy most casual listeners, and there’s still hope for a new, creative breakthrough for the band the next time around.
Madeline Wells covers music. Contact her at [email protected].