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One of the few Scottish acts of recent times that have made an immediate and parallel impression Stateside, Glasgow’s CHVRCHES (aka Churches) have surprised even the most ardent of their youthful fanbase; the Roman-font-style “v” is also to aid fans find them faster on the internet.
Formed in 2011, and fronted by Stirling-born elfin waif Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES combine elements of 80s electro/synth-pop (DEPECHE MODE, OMD, BUGGLES et al) with the image of PARAMORE and The XX; that’s to say it would be impossible nowadays not to be pigeonholed somewhere. Backed by former AEREOGRAMME keyboardist/knob-twiddler Iain Cook and part-time TWILIGHT SAD tour addition, Martin Doherty, Lauren – a master’s law degree holder in journalism who previously led out Blue Sky Archives and drummed for Boyfriend/Girlfriend – has now melted the hearts of nearly every young lad across the globe; she has of course bravely pitched her contempt for the daily abuse served up to her by misogynous media trolls.
Armed with an array of quirky songs to attract the necessary corporates, including indie debut `The Mother We Share’ (recorded in Cook’s basement Alucard studios), CHVRCHES burst on to the scene when `Lies’ popped up on a free download in May 2012. Subsequently tipped for the top, the trio signed a lucrative deal with Glassnote Records (run by Daniel Glass), while the `Recover’ EP was premiered at a performance at SXSW. With `Gun’ also making inroads into the lower rungs of the charts, and a healthy rapport from a tour support slot to heroes DEPECHE MODE, CHVRCHES and Goodbye Records signed to Virgin Records.
Buoyed by the Top 40 re-issue status of `The Mother We Share’, their debut album THE BONES OF WHAT YOU BELIEVE (2013) {*8}, stormed the UK and US charts at No.9 and 12 respectively. Echoing several pop-tastic cousins from across the seas (AVRIL LAVIGNE and LORDE come to mind), the aforementioned singles drew in punters by the bucket-load, but was it really necessary to add the odd f-word into `We Sink’, when they attract such a teeny-pop audience. The meat of the “Bones” for older, 30-something geezers came courtesy of Lauren-less dirges `Under The Tide’ and `You Caught The Light’, while one should scratch out a listen to covers of PRINCE’s `I Would Die 4 U’, HAIM’s `Falling’ and WHITNEY HOUSTON’s `It’s Not Right But It’s Okay’.
Tip: sell `Lies’ to Dave Gahan and the ‘Mode for an immediate chart-topper.
Synthpop under a renaissance of late, the chirpy, cutesy-pie Lauren and Co dished out a second helping of their spiny, soaring melodies a la EVERY OPEN EYE (2015) {*6}. Understandably appealing to a younger audience (from 3 to 13 in today’s teen terms), the cheeky hot spots from the Top 5 set were the pulsating download singles `Leave A Trace’, `Never Ending Circles’ and `Clearest Blue’ – none of them hits by any stretch of the imagination. If pop music was a movie, CHVRCHES would be mid-80s coming-of-age flicks, Sixteen Candles, St Elmo’s Fire and The Breakfast Club.
Emo-electro with a dance-pop sheen built on the charm and charisma of (30-year-old!) Lauren, LOVE IS DEAD (2018) {*6} was CHVRCHES third album. Basically an effervescent pop act who couldn’t buy a major hit single by way of `Get Out’, `My Enemy’ (featuring The NATIONAL’s Matt Berninger), `Never Say Die’ and a remixed `Miracle’, the said long-player still managed to crack the Top 10 (#11 US). Maybe it was the production techniques of Greg Kurstin, or the guidance from veteran DAVE STEWART (the EURYTHMICS maverick) that gave the Scots trio that je ne sais quoi, however, to last long in the fickle world of AOR and the likes, something better change – soon.
© MC Strong/MCS Oct2013-Jun2018

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