Album review: “Every Open Eye” by CHVRCHES

The most anticipated second album by CHVRCHES, “Every Open Eye” stuns with a brilliantly crisp and bubbly synth pop like no one else is doing. The album is a cohesive blend of everything good from their debut album “The Bones of What You Believe” and an omission of the hatred and rage that engulfed their lyrical structure. Instead, the lyrics sung reflect a more grown up tone that corresponds with the polished synth and gleaming production. CHVRCHES was the darling newcomer of 2013, but they will forever be instilled in our hearts by this new work.

CHVRCHES, a Scottish band, came together in 2011 and brought their first EP mid 2012. Their debut single “The Mother We Share” was a pop sensation with radio play and international acclaim. From that success they went on to record a full album of tunes, “The Bones of What You Believe”. This album was synth pop heaven, with angelic vocals, sparse beats, and intricate synthesizer work.

Much in that same light, CHVRCHES continues their synth pop dream in “Every Open Eye.” Lyrically and vocally this album is far more developed. Songs like “Empty Threat” and “Leave A Trace” allow singer Lauren Mayberry’s voice to be the focal point, instead of being hidden with layers of effects of their previous projects.

On top of performance, the tone of the lyrical content is much more sophisticated. Love, hate, confusion, and understanding abound in the themes of the songs. “Make Them Gold” has strong allusion to a happy and cooperative marriage with cheerful musical tones, while “Down Side of Me” is a bit more melancholy with lyrics like “Keep you away from the down side of me / You can keep me a trick of the light that you see” that brings in much more studied and methodical beats.

The balance of words and electronics keeps this album on equal ground. Near the end of the album, the bass gets heavier, and the drum machine becomes more intent on unraveling all previous notions of quiet and peace. There also seems to be resignation and acceptance in the lyrics, which complements the wanting and confused tone of the first half of the album.

Throughout most of the tracks, there is an undercurrent of what sounds like video game effects. “Clearest Blue” has effects that evoke the need to be in a side scroller, looking for power ups, and many of the other songs are reminiscent of Mario Kart’s Rainbow Road level with their incredibly up and poppy qualities.

The last song of the album is the largest departure for this group. “Afterglow” is an immensely powerful statement of resignation on the relationship that is being sung about. A ballad in its truest form, vocals and very light keyboards are the only thing that make this track shine. Mayberry has finally found where she belongs, front and center of this band’s sound.

The blend of bubblegum pop vocals and relatively scaled back synth work allows this album space to be interpreted, not just listened to. There is a clear definition between the album halves, not just because band member Martin Doherty gets to lead the vocals on the middle track, but because the songs are so well presented and arranged in a methodical manner.

CHVRCHES has completely outdone themselves with this album. It is careful when it should be and adventurous when you least expect it. Where their first album was lyrically about blame and hatred, “Every Open Eye”’s main champion cry is that there is something better around the corner; a better life that can be achieved through forward motion and acceptance.

If this album is any indication as to where this band is going, then they have incredibly big shoes to fill for their next project.

You can find this album for free on Spotify, or on their website at chvrch.es with CD, digital and vinyl options.


Print Friendly

Comments are closed.