Review: Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
Published on September 27th, 2013 | Jonny Abrams
Listening to Chvrches’ debut album The Bones of What You Believe raises two significant questions: 1) Why are so many bands in such a rush not just to recreate the ’80s, but to recreate the less inspiring aspects of it?
And 2) Why are critics falling over each other to acclaim it? The Bones of What You Believe has received rave reviews from Pitchfork and the NME, but for the life of us we can’t find anything to separate Chvrches from the reams of ’80s-pop pastiche acts currently doing the rounds.
Sorry, we just don’t get it. We didn’t get it when we reviewed “The Mother We Share” in a recent singles round-up, and…thinking on, let’s just idly reproduce (two can play at that game) what we wrote then to save us from having to paraphrase ourselves:
“Too many people have access to synths these days. Bloody sick of songs featuring an “uh-oh, uh-oh” motif too…honestly, there seem to be about six a week.
Oh look, they shoehorn the word ‘fuck’ in there, just for extra added credibility. Better get announcing them as the best new something or other in the whatever, we suppose.
This is like a slightly more exuberant MS MR. It’s really not all that bad, to be honest; it’s just fairly bland, way too trendy for its own good and a darn sight less clever than it seems to think it is.”
The rest of The Bones of What You Believe is barely worth mentioning, so little does it deviate from this formula. “We Sink” is utterly indistinct enough to be a self-fulfilling prophesy – “I’ll be a thorn in your side”, indeed – and “Recover” is basically inferior to Ace of Base.
“Lies” comes relatively close to breaking up the incessant tonality of it all, while the male vocal on “Under the Tide” flaunts the rigidity to some extent without ever feeling in danger of exciting…and, lo and behold, there’s actually some half-decent stuff towards the end.
Penultimate track “Science/Visions” is quite pleasingly unsettling, its weird dissonant backing vocals and grinding, pulsing beat both welcome touches, although Lauren Mayberry’s voice sweetens it just that little bit too much.
There are some nice melodic twists to “Lungs”, so maybe Chvrches have it in them to turn in an album that’s consistently worthwhile. Despite what everyone else seems to be saying, The Bones of What You Believe is not it.
The Bones of What You Believe is out now on Virgin.
Rocksucker says: Two and a Half Quails out of Five!