Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe

Synthpop. The mere mention of the term conjures up images of dodgy 80s acts with absurd haircuts and a penchant for playing keyboards shaped like guitars.  For every decent exponent of the genre, there were multiple examples of those who put synth and pop together and came up with something truly horrendous.

Synthpop never really died out completely. There has always been some dedicated enthusiasts committed to recreating what for them was a golden period in pop music’s illustrious history but what sounded vaguely futuristic and new in the 80s quickly became cheesy and commonplace as a glut of acts tried to prove that pop music at its most synthetic was the way forward.

Chvrches are unashamedly synthpop. They are also very good indeed. Not a dodgy haircut in sight, just one iridescent pop song after another on a debut album that is laden with potential hits.

Formed in Glasgow in 2011, they have been marked down as ones to watch since the release of their first EP earlier in the year. The Bones of What You Believe exceeds our wildest expectations – a fresh and insanely catchy collection of tunes that will have you wondering how we lived without them for so long. The key to the albums success is the emphasis on the song – there is not a single duff track on this record.

While other bands expend far too much time slavishly trying to recreate that authentic 80s retro sound at the expense of coming up with some decent tunes, Chvrches wisely recognise that the songs come first and build the track around that.

Opener ‘The Mother We Share’sets the tone for what follows – a melodic, exuberant pop song that will have you humming along after a couple of listens. ‘We Sink’ is shot through with an undercurrent of bitterness, a recurring theme proving that this album is not just some fluffy, lightweight piece of pop confectionary.

‘Gun’ and ‘Lies’ are two monster tracks – in an ideal world, these are songs that would rule the charts for weeks on end at the expense of the latest bunch of reality TV pop creations. Singer Lauren Mayberry has the perfect voice to carry these songs while Ian Cook and Martin Doherty assemble a bewildering array of synthesised sounds that recall the best of 80s pop while still sounding remarkably fresh and of the moment.

With The Bones of What You Believe, Chvrches have this synthpop thing licked – for their next album, perhaps they should have a go at death metal or try their hand at jazz fusion, because it is hard to see them bettering this. The Bones of What You Believe is pure, pop perfection.


4 out of 5 stars (4 / 5)