To say that the debut album from Glasgow's CHVRCHES has been keenly anticipated would be something of an understatement. A large of amount of hype has been generated about the band via a number of already classic electronic pop singles, lengthy tours and high profile support slots with the likes of Depeche Mode and that hype is entirely justified. Look at it this way - we Depeche Mode fans are a notoriously hard to please bunch and a number of support bands have had some pretty rough treatment over the years. When CHVRCHES played on some European stadium shows this summer they went down a storm and gained a large number of new fans. Their fanbase was already ticking along nicely and had been steadily growing since the majestic Lies first popped up last year but the band really have taken off recently with the album hitting the top 10 in the UK and number 12 in America. I can't stop listening to it and am rather excited about seeing them live at the O2 ABC in Glasgow this Thursday. In advance of that gig then here's my track by track take on it:
1. The Mother We Share
This is simply a great electronic pop song and starts the album as it means to go on. We have a killer chorus at the centre of it all backed with superb music and the band's trademark vocal sample sounds. This was first issued in 2012 on very rare coloured vinyl which I don't have a copy of - all donations accepted
2. We Sink
Man alive, this song is breathtaking. I'm trying my best not to draw obvious comparisons but for some reason this puts me in mind of Violator which is as high a musical compliment as I can pay. In an album of great songs this is a standout. Honestly, it is a stone cold classic.
Another one of the pre album singles, Gun starts off nicely but turns nasty in the chorus with all sorts of threats bandied around. The song has a real early electronics feel to it which is ace and once again the chorus is just perfect.
A change of pace here and God help us all a guitar. The song again brings Depeche to mind but I can also hear the Cocteau Twins and the Cure here. When the synth line at 2 mins 41 seconds kicks in you'll be blown away. The songs shows that the band have a far bigger repertoire than catchy 3 and half minute songs and it's a real treat. I know of one Depeche veteran who is obsessed by this tune at the moment and you can see why. Again, the music is fantastic but here Lauren's voice really shines. The production on the album as a whole is fantastic and it's fairly brave of the band not to push Lauren's vocals to the fore throughout. They do here though and it's the right thing to do.
The version here is a slightly tidied up version of the 2012 song but it loses none of its' impact. It's as good an electronic song as you'll hear this year and once again - that chorus!
6. Under The Tide
Another brooding electronic cracker in which Martin and Lauren share the vocals.
I first wrote about Recover here when I heard the song for the first time. I still love it. Like I said at the time, any song that could distract me from Delta Machine was going to have to be something special and this is.
8. Night Sky
This is the poppiest track on the album and does lack the strength of Recover or The Mother We Share but still works.
A really excellent track that brings to mind the sort of electronics Mute Records were putting out in the early years. The band have this magical knack of mixing older sounds with modern elements of electronic production without them sounding in any way dated. This is an outstanding track which Daniel Miller himself would have been proud to release (at least I think so anyway)
I'm getting repetitive here but this is a brilliant take on modern electronic pop
11. By The Throat
Again, just pure electronic perfection. It takes all the elements I've mentioned above and uses them brilliantly again
12. You Caught The Light
The album ends on a moody almost gothic edge within which there are elements of Yazoo at their darkest. It's a perfect closing track for a nigh on perfect album
My review may seem a little over excited but I am genuinely blown away by this album. As I said in my Scottish Fiction review for me it's the most important debut electronic album since Speak & Spell. If CHVRHCES go on to have the sort of success whatever band released that album have had it will be entirely justified
See you at the ABC on Thursday!