I was going to wait for my copy of the album to arrive, but seeing as Chvrches have been good enough to stream their album on NPR (here), I felt I had to write a hastily put together first impression review. The news is good - Every Open Eye is an excellent album.
There are many things about Chvrches that I love. First up, they come from Glasgow and have put Scottish electronic music on the map in impressive style. I always regret being a bit slow out of the blocks with them as I just missed out on having them on my first Glasgow Electronic piece. Just after the band asked me to send some questions, they exploded worldwide and I missed my chance. They had significantly bigger things on their plate and the remarkable success they had with The Bones Of What You Believe was hugely well deserved. Secondly, the band, especially Lauren, are huge Depeche Mode fans and they supported DM on the Delta Machine tour so that gets them infinite love from me. Thirdly, and most importantly, they make superb electronic pop music and Every Open Eye is only going to see them become more and more popular and justifiably so. Here's a track by track take:
Never Ending Circles
A powerful start to the album that combines a huge sound with the band's trademark vocal sample stabs and, like the whole of the album, puts Lauren's vocals to the fore to great effect. This has show opener written all over it.
Leave A Trace
One that most people will know already and, as daft as it might sound for a band only two albums into their career, a classic Chvrches track. It's just brilliant synthpop, albeit synthpop with a sinister undercurrent. The song benefits from sparser than usual instrumentation too. One final thing to note is the synth line at 3 mins 21 that echoes the main riff - a small thing but something quite brilliant
Keep You On My Side
Keep You On My Side starts off at a frantic pace with a Pet Shop Boys So Hard like bassline, building to a chorus backed with swirling synths and percussion exploding everywhere. It's another that is sure to blow the roof off any venue it's played at
Make Them Gold
The most straightforward pop song thus far, More Than Gold has echoes of 80's style production and Vince Clarke like synth lines throughout and a chorus that somehow feels classic already.
Clearest Blue is the first standout track here. It's up there with Chvrches best and is an absolute joy, basically perfect. Bonus points too for performing the nice track of mentioning the album name in the song which never fails to please (see also: Depeche Mode's Pipeline and Lie To Me). Finally, if the moment at 2 mins 12 seconds where Lauren sings "Will you meet me halfway up" followed by an explosion in a synthesizer factory doesn't make your hairs stand on end, you're doing music wrong.
High Enough To Carry You Over
This track sees Martin Doherty take over lead vocals and, like Lauren's vocals elsewhere here, his are much more prominent than ever before. Filled with more 80's style synths, it's a different pace to the rest of the tracks on album, but really works well.
If there was one track to maybe leave off it might be this one. It's good but a bit too similar to the rest of the faster tracks here and lacks the edge and bite of say Keep You On My Side or Never Ending Circles
Down Side Of Me
A slower track that starts off with a R&B like feel, Down Side Of Me develops into a lovely electro-ballad, the highlight of which is a wonderful vocal from Lauren.
Playing Dead is the first of a run of three tracks that end the album brilliant. It's a beast of a song that recalls, yes I know, Depeche Mode and New Order and has a chorus that most bands would kill for.
Wow. Along with Clearest Blue, this is the standout track on an album full of wonderful music. Basically, Bury It is the sound of an angry Yazoo having a fight on a dancefloor and that is not, and never could be, a bad thing. Just brilliant.
This ends the album perfectly, with wave upon wave of swelling electronics supporting Lauren's again superb vocal pefectlt. A slow, moody but optimistic end to the record, it's a sublime track.
The difficulty with one of these instant listen reviews is that I'm hearing the album for the first time and judging it, rather than immersing myself in it as I'd usually rather do. Like The Bones Of What You Believe though, this is an important record and so the instant review approach is necessary. The pleasing thing is that Chvrches have managed to make a record that is easily the equal of their debut and it's one that is bound to see them become ever more popular and rightly so. Every Open Eye is a very special record indeed.