CHVRCHES (churches), a popular electro-synth pop group from Scotland, released their sophomore studio album on Sept. 25 of this year. “Every Open Eye” is the group’s follow-up to their 2013 debut “The Bones of What You Believe.” Singles like “The Mother We Share,” “Lies” and “Recover” gained international acclaim quickly, with “The Mother We Share” ranking number 51 on The Huffington Post’s list of the Top 52 Songs of 2012. The band even performed at the South by Southwest (SXSW) conference in 2013, where they won Inaugural Grulke Prize for Developing Non-US Act, according to the band’s Wikipedia page.
The band’s unique brand of electronic, synth-heavy pop music is fun and infectiously lively. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry has a truly one-of-a-kind voice, with a natural fluctuation of tones and pitches that pairs perfectly with background synth tracks. 2013 hits like “Gun” and “The Mother We Share” snuck up on me; although I’m not typically a fan of electronic music, CHVRCHES’ singles stood out as catchy, upbeat and utterly exciting tunes. A solid dance session — whether you’re alone in your room or in a dance club with friends — is almost obligatory as soon as this group’s hits blare through your speakers.
“Every Open Eye” maintains the same CHVRCHES sound fans have come to know and love, with a bit more attitude and bitterness behind Mayberry’s lyrics. Songs like “Never Ending Circles” have a bitter, post-break up edge, with lyrics like, “You give me everything I never deserved / This time / You know I’ll leave.” These tracks lighten the mood with fast, upbeat paces and lively background tracks, propelling the album forward.
“Keep You On My Side” drags on a bit too long, and the melodramatic chorus and intense repetition feel out of place in the album. “Make Them Gold” and “Clearest Blue,” however, offer more hopeful lyrics and uplifting vibes, a necessity at the midway point in the album. The latter stands out as a phenomenally catchy and, for lack of a better word, dance-able,track. “Clearest Blue” conveys Mayberry’s passion in a manner reminiscent of CHVRCHES’ older tracks — and reminds me why I fell in love with the band in the first place.
“High Enough to Carry You Over” is a surefire hit; this track features vocals from an unfamiliar male singer, which surprised me upon first hearing the song. Yet the singer’s smooth vocals fit well with CHVRCHES’ sound and provide a nice break in the album. Unfortunately, this track is a poor transition to “Empty Threat,” a fast-paced pop track with too much going on at once.
From the remainder of the album’s tracks, “Bury It” and “Afterglow” stand out. “Bury It” is another classic CHVRCHES hit, with the same electronic-heavy pop sound I’ve come to expect from this band. “Afterglow” stands out to me for an entirely different reason: the song is complex and layered and almost sounds like two or three tracks in one. Its airy, ethereal sound brings to mind a church hymn — and I mean that in the best way possible. The track is sophisticated in a surprising and appealing way.
With the exception of a few tracks that fell flat, “Every Eye Open” impressed me. I’ll certainly continue to follow CHVRCHES’ music in the future. If you’ll excuse me, I’m off to have a solo dance party in my dorm to “Never Ending Circles” and “Bury It.”