The genre of Synch-pop is essentially a group of young up and comers trying to get their moment in the spotlight. Catchiness is easy to produce in this genre yet creating good content feels like an entirely different matter all together. Few artists in this genre seem to capitalize upon the combination of appealing hooks and well-made tunes. Enter Chvrches, a Scottish Synch-Pop band that consists of Lauren Mayberry on vocals, while Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are on keyboards and samplers. Their first album, The Bones of What You Believe, is a fusion of electronic, pop, and hook-loaded songwriting. It sounds like anything else from the genre of Synch-pop, yet there is a style that this band has that makes this album stand out from the competition.
They have an 80’s style mixed with an indie vibe going for them that brings a unique sound. The majority of their songs are really ear-catching. Unlike the majority of bands in this genre, Chrvches almost avoids using guitars in their production outside of a couple songs. This brings a more interesting sound from the group that makes them more appealing. The production overall sounds well-made, and the listener can tell that the band went into great detail with the sound for this record, making sure everything was top-notch. The beats and the hooks are incredibly catchy and engaging, making every tune sound amazing.
Mayberry’s singing on this album is fantastic. It’s almost an instrument within itself, bringing an emotional tune to the album. She can sound aggressive, charming, triumphant, and fragile bringing various emotions to the tracks that can leave any listener impressed. Her voice coincides with the ultra bright beats that play in the background, giving a well-balanced listen between the production and the vocals.
One key flaw in the album comes from certain band members. There are a two songs in particular – “Under the Tide” and “You Caught the Light” – where Mayberry takes a backseat on vocals and allow Cook and Doherty to take the helm on singing. The problem is that Mayberry is basically the backbone of the band’s voice. When they took her off the vocals, they took away a key piece of what makes their band special. When Cook or Doherty sing, they don’t have the same talent that Mayberry has, and they sound fairly mediocre. The beats and samples during these tracks are still good – it’s just that the male vocals don’t hold any appeal. That, sadly, holds back some of the greatness in their songs from this album.
Another problem that arises in the album is the songwriting. The majority of the time, it’s solid; however, there are a few songs where the chorus comes off somewhat shallow. “We Sink” comes to mind with the lyrics. “I’ll be a thorn in your side till you die/ I’ll be a thorn in your side for always.” It’s appealing at first, but the chorus repeats itself back to back. Then it gets played three more times over the continuation of the song. After hearing the same chorus over and over, it becomes bland and repetitious very quickly. However between Mayberry’s voice, the catchy beats, and the wonderful production in this LP still rises over its flaws.
As I mentioned earlier, this album has a very 80’s feel to it. But don’t underestimate that feel, for it emulates that decade of pop music splendidly. Crafting a debut record that not only sounds engaging, but never loses its luster, which is an impressive feat. Chvrches definitely lives up to the hype, bringing forth a style that’s unique and somehow familiar at the same time. At the end of the day, The Bones of What you Believe is an album that will have any listener’s ears mesmerized.