Monday, September 23rd, 2013
You Caught The Light
Review of CHVRCHES’ The Bones Of What You Believe
Eliot Lee HazelIf hype were actual currency, you could trade in copies of Scottish trio CHVRCHES’ debut album The Bones Of What You Believe for bars of gold, their buzz-versus-time graph having steadily grown over the last year, successfully buoying them through three North American tours of increasing stature and scale before their first full-length was in stores.
These heightened expectations might seem to demand a big record, but those who were in attendance at the band’s first Toronto show in March – hardly a powerhouse live show with two-thirds of the band anchored to their keyboard stations and frontwoman Lauren Mayberry personable but not exactly owning the stage with her presence – can attest that it’s the small aspects of the band that give them their charm, an opinion borne out by Bones.
The karaoke versions of these songs might easily be mistaken for M83 numbers, with their big synth textures and singalong melodies reaching unashamedly skywards, Mayberry’s sweet voice and the melancholic-to-miserable sentiments it delivers keeps things grounded and resonant at a human scale. It’s understandable if the lyrics aren’t the first things that the listener notices – the big gleaming hooks around them, both instrumental and vocal, do tend to grab one’s attention – but they do offer welcome substance to the proceedings and add an extra dimension that helps them exceed expectations. To be clear: even if Mayberry was singing nonsensical verses about squirrels and tapioca these songs would be earworms of the highest order, but that there’s heart and intelligence here as well makes Bones a record that will merit plays well after the hype machine has moved onto the next big thing.
The Bones Of What You Believe is out this week on September 24 and NPR has a stream of the album. Consequence Of Sound, Billboard, The Wall Street Journal, and The Scotsman have features on the band and their ascent and CBC Music has a video session.
Stream: Johnny Flynn – “Fol-De-Rol”
Video: Yuck – “Middle Sea”
Stream: Arthur Beatrice – “Grand Union”