1. The Mother We Share
Opening with some vocal sample sounds with some great panning, left, centre and right, this is what stereo is for! Next the drum machine hi-hats and handclaps join. Then the heavy sounding bass drum and snare mix perfectly with the deep synth bass line. Once the vocals are introduced the instrumentation cuts back to a punctuated bass drum, synth bass and melodic part on the same beat. This delicately slips into the chorus which adds what I can only describe as a very classy synthesiser melody with an added arpeggiated type accompaniment.
The second verse builds with another contrasting line with me think some very fine sounding distortion effect akin to an overdrive filter and some extra percussive shaker sound. The excellent “oh ah oh ah oh” are so well known with this song now it’s almost anthemic and I can image it being sang along to at live shows! This song lifts and falls in all the right places and has some great sounding vocal sample type sounds again towards the end. Even though this was a single I don’t grow tired of hearing this track, a great opening to the album.
2. We Sink
The introduction of this track reminds me of someone at a huge modular synthesiser being operated by an analogue sequencer! Just as you get used to the repeating notes, an underpinning bass drum joins in to throw you off at a tangent. This forms the basis of the first verse with a closed hi-hat drum machine and then becoming a trademark of this band, some more excellent and cutting vocal samples.
The chorus then introduces some wonderful sweeping melodic washes and some little melodic percussive tinkles as Lauren sings “I’ll be a thorn in your side till you die”, and then some reverberated percussive electronic percussion. A very interesting middle eight section has a backdrop of what could be sweeping sixty-fourth or thirty second syncopated notes and an ethereal vocal backing with a snappy electronic snare building to the final chorus and a notable fantastically programed final synth sound the bring this track to an end. Also a single as I write this review. I can’t help but think this track maybe too clever for the washy pop audience of today suffering the likes of Pharrell Williams!
Another sequenced type introduction with a pulsating bass sound and trickling high pitched sequenced melodies and ticking drum machine. Vocals and a driving bass drum, snare drum rhythm compete for you attention. Then the introduction of a driving sequenced beat on every note accompaniment, starting with a half closed filter gradually opening and adding a dirty distorting lead line over the filtered backing.
The next section builds with some huge sounding drum parts with fills and rolls entering and leaving. Overall a quite complex arrangement with an excellent dropped out middle section, the closer you listen to this track the more you get out of it and as it ends you become aware of the clever use of space of reverb on the overlapping vocal outro. Also a single release
Starts with Cocteauesque guitar and Lauren with a deep underpinning bass drum, the song lifts with the addition of a drum machine snare and some wonderful reverbed vocal harmonies, everything leaves to reveal a delicate percussive white noise snapping and haunting synth line giving space for the vocal to resonate through.
An excellent sparse middle section with vocal and harmonies and another beautifully programed atmospheric underlying synth tune starts to be revealed almost in syncopation with the whole track and throwing you in another direction before slamming a huge slab of synthetic joy in your face as this song lifts and makes me smile, massive synthetic Simmons toms resonate as more treated vocal brilliance spins around and conjure up for me images of the sun going down after a hot summers day. Can I just say pure synthpop brilliance!!!!
This song opens with some deep synthetic string sounds with a twisted vocal treated sample, I like the way this plodding beat transposes as Laurens vocal interjects with the interplay of the rhythm. The chorus adds some interesting synth percussion as the strange vocal samples continue to the middle eight which strips everything back and shifts the feeling, with atmospheric echoed vocal samples and a filtered snare drum gradually brightens to force its way through.
The end is brought on with some colossally powerful synthesiser drones not unreminiscent of Gary Numans early work. Overall this song doesn’t have the now familiar lifts and drops but is never the less still pleasant enough and also another single release.
6. Under the Tide
An arpegiated synth chord starts this song and your immediately thrown by the fact that it isn’t Lauren singing, its Martin Doherty, the arpeggio twists and a huge bass note underlines the melody as further arpeggios join with further synthetic melodies before a middle eight drop out of the powerful bass tones, more chiming tones coerce with the other lines before a final atmospheric drop and what we have here is a dance anthem, pure and simple with some heavy Simmons tom rolls breaking through as the song exits.
Short pushing synth notes resonate and run up and down the keyboard as Laurens vocal splits the track open. With massive drum machine sounds that launch into the great lead into the brilliant chorus ending with what sounds like 808 handclaps and snares scuttle around as the synthesiser chords launch walls of sound and into the chorus we are plunged once again before the middle eight section alters the mood momentarily before throwing you back into the mix.
Topped off with a truly brilliant ending unlike anything pop related for sure. Another great single from this album.
8. Night Sky
Starts with an echoing synth chime not unlike synthetic steel drums, this comes over the top of a tight drum machin3 pattern and Laurens vocals, and she doesn’t wait long before launching herself on most of these tracks! Some nice percussive reverberations punctuate and rare guitar twangs can also be heard before leaving everything behind but a gated drum machine and some 808 cowbells.
All in all another pleasant song if not, for me as brilliant as some of the tracks that have gone before it, still they can’t all be brilliant it would get boring! Has another tweak towards Ou Est Le Swimming Pool to me.
A heavily filtered sequence line over the top of a bass drum and Laurens whaling vocals as the synthetic atmosphere filter is opened to reveal a blade runner backdrop with more gated huge drum sounds and Thomas Dolby type string synth sounds plonk through the mix of the synth drone on the third note of each bar.
A heavy almost EBM feel to this track, probably won’t win many peoples vote for best track on the album but a nice addition all the same.
This song starts with some very deep and gated bass drum sounds before Lauren again wastes no time in launching into the vocal, a very delicate melody with what sounds like some sort of resonator effect on the vocal (I know this from playing with some resonator effects previously lol) to describe it, it’s like a sound treatment that highlights certain frequencies in a sound. How its usage can be described in this way, in as word is brilliant, and for me it really makes the track.
Some heavy snare sounds and vocal samples are added before a bouncing synth bass playing sixteenth notes underlines the chorus, a shift in path as some massive synth sounds fill the speakers and it sounds like Martin adds a vocal line that contrasts the main one. Unfortunately the track ends just as I was really getting into it but still I guess that’s better than getting bored of it before it finished!
11. By the Throat
Another delicate start to this track, Lauren and a solitary synthesiser playing pizzicato chords, again sounds like Martin on backing vocals, some “big” anthenmic synthesisers layer sounds before some beautiful arpeggio sounds run up and down behind, almost dance in places but much cleverer with some sharp synthetic percussion and drops to change the mood before building nicely again to a timely climax, what can be best described as a synthesiser solo soars over the top as the song ends.
12. You Caught the Light
The final track intros with some atmospherics and a wonderful distorted synth sounds and guitar and vocal choir effects. Some more classic synthesiser plays a different line over it all, as the song gets going, some great deep bass and clean electric guitar plays. Martin has the vocals duties on this track. Some excellent soaring synth parts accompany his voice. It sounds like some slowed down vocal samples are somewhere in this powerful track, words like haunting come to the fore in what can best be described as a final overture to this album
As you can probably guess I rather like this album. Lyrically very thought provoking and the vocal samples have to be heard to be believed, they cleverly use vowel and constantans even better than countdown! Overall beautifully produced and conjures up for me some similar sounds to the fantastic Ou Est Le Swimming Pool.
Lauren Mayberry’s vocal perfectly complements the synthetic sound. The first time I heard Chvrches was on the radio 1 whilst driving and I thought vocally there was a passing resemblance to Elizabeth Fraser of the Cocteau Twins. Talking of vocals I can’t help but be fascinated by the way this album uses vocal effects , vocal samples and treated, twisted vocal samples and effects, all too often the vocal part is just what it says, but the vocal on this debut album is used as another source of all sorts of cleverness from percussive to melodic, you get the impression the whoever did this could have just used this to orchestrate the whole album, and that for me sums this up, a tremendous amount of thought and effort has gone into the songs and detailing throughout and it has certainly paid off.
I don’t think I’ll be short of compadres eagerly waiting the follow up album!