- 03 Sep 21
Impressive effort from Scottish synth-pop trio.
Glasgow trio Chvrches have built their whole schtick on anthemic synth-pop. Their 2013 debut, The Bones Of What You Believe, exploded onto the scene with frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s power-pop vocals to the fore. A fascinating amalgam of alternative and mainstream, they were a bold choice for noughties indie fans.
However, their third album, 2018’s Love Is Dead, proved somewhat underwhelming. Bringing Adele producer Greg Kurstin along for the ride, the band leaned too heavily into the EDM-lite pop trend.
Now comes Screen Violence. A sharp swerve away from the mainstream, the record sees Chvrches returning to in-house production, and the result is both subversive and sophisticated. Opening with ‘Asking For A Friend’ – which segues from choral synths to danceable pop track – Screen Violence finds Mayberry at her rawest. She frets about the effect the internet has on her brain, and explores dark dreamscapes and terrifying nightmares.
“I had a dream your father died/ I couldn’t scream, I couldn’t cry,” Mayberry sings on ‘Violent Delights’. The highlight, howveer, is early single ‘How Not To Drown’, which boasts urgent vocals and a guest appearance from The Cure’s Robert Smith.
Screen Violence gets ever-so-slightly sleepy in the middle, but overall, the back-to-basics approach works. Chvrches are firing on all cylinders again.