Street Sounds: Scottish band produces more holy synth-pop

Chvrches' well planned synthesizer/keyboard driven sound is meticulous and dramatic on new album, The Bones of What You Believe.

  • Dec. 27, 2013 8:00 p.m.

From the misty land o’ water kelpies and Sheena Easton comes the blindingly bright trio Chvrches, a synth-pop group from the universities and basements of Glasgow.

A once gritty city with a formerly fearsome rep, Glasgow’s put out some definitely non-tough sounding acts like Simple Minds, Belle and Sebastian, and The Bay City Rollers, amongst others. And now Chvrches, whose well planned synthesizer/keyboard driven sound is meticulous and dramatic.

The group (Lauren Mayberry; vocals, Iain Cook; keyboards, bass, synthesizer, vocals and Martin Doherty; synthesizers, keys, vocals) has a high gloss surface that hints at depth (Tether), with pulsing keyboard washes that put the synthetic in synth. But what matters is that their sound grabs attention in a flashing fashion. It’s also down to whether they can give their machines enough warmth to allow communication to the masses.

They get part-way there with Lies, a lilting techno-rock track that courses along with a curious Highland thrum.

Mayberry’s voice is compelling in an electro-enhanced vibe that rides the sound waves. She taps into the distance that electronic-driven music creates.

Some of the songs hint at monumental gestures like the looping outro of Under the Tide, but at times the crystalline shine of Chvrches sound is one dimensional. You can hear the lack of depth that is inherent in the techno sound (Recover).

At their best, Chvrches tames the synthesizers and undertakes dreamy mini-voyages that evoke the illusion of internal travel (Night Sky, Science/Visions). It’s a close-your-eyes-and-feel-it kind of journey rather than a rocking car ride (both trips have their place).

At other points in the album, the trio falls into the mid-tempo pace and hard, glossy veneer that seems endemic to synth-pop bands.

The band reaches for the sky and hits the heights at times, but the content of the material is uneven and the music lacks a lived-in quality that the precision highlights.

Dean Gordon-Smith is a Vernon-based musician who reviews new releases for The Morning Star every Friday.

Just Posted

Drugs, cash and 11 people apprehended at Vernon house

RCMP executed warrant at 35th Street home for second time in a month

North Okanagan transit to UBCO resumes

Fall schedule begins Sunday, Sept. 1

Coldstream woman transforms synthetic waste into art

UBCO grad’s exhibit at Caetani Centre

Theft of Vernon teen’s stolen bike has happy ending

A 31 year old man from Alberta was arrested Wednesday and is currently in custody facing charges

Vernon man praises CMHA suicide grief support group

Vernon and District branch offers another session Sept. 4 to Oct. 23

Sister Speak comes home to Okanagan on world tour

Shosws in Kelowna, Vernon and Revelstoke

UBC Okanagan, Lake Country joint community pool not a reality

Lake Country residents want a community pool, survey shows

Hell’s Angel prospect back in custody after being charged with assault

The 30-year-old man now faces several additional charges

New South Okanagan winery will open its doors soon

Phantom Creek Estates announced its new CEO and winemaker, and completed first phase of construction

B.C. man tells judge he attempted suicide a month before daughters’ murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Shuswap’s Rust Valley Restorers team rolling onto Netflix

Mike and Connor Hall, Avery Shoaf see Tappen-based television show expand to streaming service

Okanagan Rail Ride gathering steam ahead of inaugural race

The ride is a non-competitive event celebrating the Okanagan Rail Trail

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Most Read