September 27, 2013

"The Mother We Share" by CHVRCHES

Picture the Scottish. Those kilt-wearing pipers are known for shepherding their flocks through meadow and moor with a leg of mutton in one hand and a fifth of whisky in the other. For too long Scotland has played host to a one-dimensional culture whose people are only good at shearing sheep, drinking, and drunkenly shearing sheep. The narrow worldview and skill set of the Scots is being expanded to include synth pop music thanks to the hard work, diligence and musical talent of a group called CHVRCHES.

Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook pose for
Interview Magazine.
 This Scottish electronic trio formed in 2011 and is, two years later, releasing their first full album, The Bones of What You Believe. Their wheelhouse is synthesizer work between Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, backing up frontwoman Lauren Mayberry's compelling melodies, but they don't restrict themselves. Iain plays guitar and bass, and both gents will get behind the mic to sing harmonies and occasionally lead vocals on tracks. This week's free single, "The Mother We Share", is the first track on the new album and typifies most of what you'll hear throughout.

When I pop a CD in for the first time, this is the kind of sound I want to hear. The slow ethereal build coupled with Mayberry's heavily distorted and rhythmic vocals is a great way of grabbing my attention and hooking the listener. In the first verse you get to pay close attention to the exposed synth chords and hear Mayberry's vocals au naturel for the first time. Her voice strikes me as childlike; it's the voice of a performer that doesn't sound good live. It's tinny, and doesn't have a lot of natural power, but it sounds great when distorted, and makes for pensive melodies.

Mayberry's lyrics don't do much for me, but Doherty and Cook's synth work is so catchy that the lyrics don't need to compensate. This is just a really pretty sounding song, even if it doesn't mean anything to me personally. It's good to listen to and is enough to get some people to buy a couple tracks off the album. Just as the hook at the start of the song grips the listener to enjoy the whole song, the track serves as the same hook for the entire album. It's very strategically done, and I think successfully so as well.

Much of the album is nice to listen to as well. If you want to hear Doherty and Cook's pipes, listen to "Under the Tide". For a bigger meal of Mayberry's distorted vocals and layered harmonies, listen to "Lungs". The bonus track, "Strong Hand", on the special edition is somewhere between house music and a Carly Rae Jepsen single, and has a really cool sound. To hear the mellower side of CHVRCHES, listen to the melancholy "Tether". All beautiful tracks on what I hope proves to be a successful album. Kudos to CHVRCHES and their single, "The Mother We Share", which I give...

3.5 out of 5

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