CHVRCHES Sophomore Album Bursts with Synth Energy

Originally published in Issue 3, Fiftieth Year of The Minstrel (October 8, 2015). Click here to view the entire issue.

“‘Leave a Trace’ is the middle finger mic-drop,” Lauren Mayberry said in an interview with Pitchfork, describing her band CHVRCHES’ (pronounced “churches”) first single off their new sophomore album Every Open Eye.

CHVRCHES is a Scottish synthpop band composed of Mayberry (lead vocals, synthesizer, samplers), who also has a law degree and a master’s in journalism; Iain Cook (synthesizer, guitar, bass, vocals); and Martin Doherty (synthesizer, samplers, vocals). The trio was all involved in numerous bands before CHVRCHES formed in 2011, when they quickly gained popularity on the Internet. The band chose the Roman numeral “V” to replace the “U” so people searching for them online could distinguish between the band and actual churches.

CHVRCHES is back from the release of their first album The Bones of What You Believe with their big hit “The Mother We Share.” Now, they are bringing sharper lyrics with more colorful synth beats in their new album Every Open Eye, which they released on Sept. 25.

CHVRCHES performs onstage. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.
CHVRCHES performs onstage. Photo courtesy of Wikimedia Commons.

The album’s leading single, “Leave a Trace,” has a strong backbeat with pop synths and catchy lyrics about giving up on a bad relationship. Mayberry writes from her personal experiences and has said she never wanted to write a cheesy pop song, she wanted to write lyrics with meaning. It is clear Mayberry achieves this goal in this single and throughout Every Open Eye.

The album’s opening song, “Never Ending Circles,” may be even more of a guilty pleasure to listen to than “Leave a Trace.” “Never Ending Circles” opens with jaunty synths contrasting with glittering sounds, followed by Mayberry’s sharp lyrics. In the chorus Mayberry sings, “Here’s to never-ending circles and building them on top of me.” Never-ending circles act as an analogy for the burden after burden she deals with in a relationship.

In Every Open Eye, relationships, particularly ending them, are a common theme. “I’ll go my way if I’m going at all,” sings Mayberry in “Never Ending Circles.” Other common ideas throughout the album include living life with no regrets and empowering individuality. The track “Make Them Gold” is the album’s anthem echoing these themes when Mayberry sweetly sings, “We will take the best parts of ourselves and make them gold.” This song is a flashback to ’80s sounds with heavy electronic elements.

“Clearest Blue” also takes synth sounds to the next level. As the song moves from verse to chorus, there are added instruments and faster singing, building up intensity until the sound explodes like a disco ball into fun, fast-paced dance music towards the end of the song. The album is full of the light, sharpness and energy that “Clearest Blue” emulates; however, it shows a softer, slower side with melodic “Down Side of Me” and melancholy “Afterglow.”

Additionally, CHVRCHES highlights Doherty’s voice when he takes the lead in “High Enough to Carry You Over,” which is another very ’80s sounding song. It exemplifies the talent of the band and shows the synergy of what being in a band should be.

All the tracks cohesively create the pop sounds and lyrics in Every Open Eye. This is anything but a sophomore slump album for CHVRCHES.