CHVRCHES: Every Open Eye (Glassnote) Review | Under the Radar - Music Magazine
Tuesday, May 26th, 2020  

CHVRCHES

Every Open Eye

Glassnote

Sep 23, 2015 Web Exclusive Bookmark and Share


As good as CHVRCHES' debut album The Bones of What You Believe was (and it was very good indeed), the whole record did often seem to be running to catch up with arguably the finest opening track on a debut album this decade in "The Mother We Share." That isn't necessarily a criticismthe strength of the rest of that record and their live shows have marked them out as genuine leading lights in the next generation of British bands (as well as singer Lauren Mayberry's praiseworthy campaign to speak out against online misogyny). But although Every Open Eye doesn't necessarily have a stand-out single of that stature (few do), the overall consistency throughout the album serves to starkly define CHVRCHES as uniquely now; relevant; and above all, here to stay.

The time between their debut and sophomore record has seen subtle shifts in tone to '80s Miami and nods to the likes of M83 and Chromatics; Every Open Eye sounds lush, intense, and gloriously colorful (Spike Stent and Bob Ludwig's mixing and mastering work here is impeccable). And at the center of it all, Mayberry's vocals have never sounded better. Though there's a slight smoothing of her Scottish accent, her voice punctuates each song with utter charm and clarity and it's notable that when her vocals are absent or pushed to the back of the mix, the album's energy drops considerably. "Leave a Trace" glitters beautifully against her vocals and the fight between the verse and the chorus on "Playing Dead" is sumptuous. But it's on "Make Them Gold" that CHVRCHES truly soar-Mayberry's voice breaks through the darker tones of the early part of the record like sunlight breaking through darkened clouds. It's one of their best tracks to date and one that the center of the record is built around.

There is a small stumble on the diluted "High Enough to Carry You Over," which without Mayberry on lead vocals and with over-gleaming synth lines sounds like a weaker Years and Years track. Equally, the following "Empty Threat" still sounds delectable but over-familiara rehash rather than a redevelopment and an imitation rather than an improvement. But these are minor quibbles, with the album climbing towards its conclusion with the aforementioned "Playing Dead" neatly placed between the multi-layered swirl of "Down Side of Me" and the organ-tinged slow-burn of the closing "Afterglow"lush, beautifully unfolding, though teasingly never quite peaking as you'd imagine it would do.

Every Open Eye is the sound of a band moving steadily forward, while keeping one foot grounded in the origin of their success. No, it isn't any gargantuan leap, but it is a collection of expertly constructed luminous and shimmering pop tracks, honed with care and delivered with clarity. It has become par for the course for British electro-pop bands to stumble horridly when it comes to the follow-up to successful debuts. CHVRCHES not only look set to buck that trend, but to continue their upward trajectory towards the summit of their ambitions. (www.chvrch.es)

Author rating: 8/10

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Average reader rating: 7/10



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