CHVRCHES - 'Love is Dead' Album Review
Sparkling Synth-pop trio CHVRCHES are back after a three year gap which in the world of music, can almost feel like disappearing off the face of the earth. As an avid fan, I've sat waiting patiently to watch them plunge back onto the scene and they’ve done it in incredible style. Clearly using album 3 as an opportunity for risk taking and experimentation, they have produced a compilation of songs based on what lead singer Lauren Mayberry describes as the “death of empathy” in society and the band are making no attempt to stay quiet about it.
CHVRCHES, composed of Glasgow natives Iain Cook, Lauren Mayberry and Martin Doherty have spent a time reconvening and preparing for album 3 in the States since the last record, and after having produced their first two top 10 reaching records on their own, this time sought help from legendary producer Greg Kurstin, who has already has huge names like Adele, Sia and Lily Allen under his belt.
Watching CHVRCHES grow and develop their sound over the past 5 years, has been brilliant to watch, and their newfound confidence as a band is encapsulated throughout ‘Love is Dead’, which is a darker, punchier and edgier sound than anything they’ve released before. Joined this time round by drummer Jonny Scott, on whichCook said "we wanted it to be more live sounding, moving in the direction of live drums and guitars and bass”, which is bound to deliver even more impact on their already glowing, neon shows.
After lead single ‘Get Out’ was released back in January, I knew this album was going to be one to watch, enticed by a noticeably different, but more confident sound. This was followed by up by 3 further releases, including ‘My Enemy’ featuring the National’s Matt Berninger, which through the contrasting nature of the duet, it nicely hints at the political undertones that inspired the rest of the album. Never say Die and Miracles, fans were given a perfect insight into what 'Love is Dead' was going to be all about. Instead of focussing on the band's own heartbreak and experiences, this album pours emotion on the issues of the wider world and is a voice standing up against apathy and everything that is wrong in society.
The first track ‘Graffiti’ is a great choice for the intro, it’s punchy, and full of that classic CHVRCHES synth sound, and sets the tone for a drama packed set of songs. Song ‘Graves’ alludes to refugees with their bodies “washing up on the shore”, demonstrating the darker theme of the album. Religion is heavily referenced to on a number of the tracks. Deliverance urges you to be “careful when you swimming in the holy water, drowning in your own beliefs”. My favourite track on the album Heaven/Hell, perhaps the most personal song on the album, features the lyrics: “I’m a perfect actress/Playing the princess in distress?” is a nod to the sexism that Mayberry has faced, yet she has remained resilient and regularly champions her Cook and Doherty often in interviews.
God’s Plan gives Martin Doherty a chance to shine as a vocalist, a very different sound to Mayberry yet fitting with the album’s tone brilliantly, and reminding listener’s of their Glaswegian roots, as well as providing a great transition into the slightly lighter, more hopeful side of the album. ‘Really Gone’ gives a more clarifying sound with Mayberry showing off her incredible vocal range and hitting unimaginably high notes. Bought to a close by enchanting power ballad 'Wonderland', we are given an insight into the good, and it is a perfect way to end things off.
This is certainly an album with a bold statement and is a nod to the bizarre state of world politics in 2018, as well as Dark vs Light of general issues, they don't fail to leave their mark. Mayberry sums it up best, "I’m done apologising and trying to appease people", perhaps this is a reminder to us all to do the same.