Review: Chvrches – Love Is Dead

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Underwhelming

Chvrches return has seen them attempt to shift towards a more mainstream pop sound, resulting in a palatable, but ultimately unimpressive album.

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Glaswegian synth-pop band Chvrches have returned with their third studio album Love Is Dead. In what is their most accessible album to date, Chvrches have ditched their quintessential indie electro vibe in favour of one-dimensional pop homogeny, and altogether it’s rather hit and miss.

Only two years on from the band’s last album release Every Open Eye, Chvrches are now firmly in the swing of things and, with Love Is Dead, look set turn their attention to their first real genre shift in their relatively short history. In an attempt to shift into the mainstream pop scene, Chvrches have decided to take the hurdle that so many bands of their ilk have fallen over, and whilst they don’t dramatically fail like an abundance of predecessors, they merely achieve the satisfactory minimum. The band have rounded out any jarring edges that the angsty album title leads you to expect, with a ubiquitous deployment of underwhelming pop melodies dulling what could have been something much more enticing.

However, the band’s affair with monolithic hooks and irrepressible synths is still a strong suit that they justifiably look to in Love is Dead. From the liberating chorus of opening track ‘Graffiti’ – with lead singer Lauren Mayberry bursting out with “We wrote our names along the bathroom walls/ Graffitiing our hearts across the stalls” – we are plunged into a synth-driven thirteen song long tale of heartbreak and loss. That being said, Chvrches attempted venture into the pop mainstream means that the album remains incredibly upbeat despite its dejected lyricism. Previously released singles ‘Get Out’ and ‘Miracle’ are highlights, the latter an anthemic depiction showing just how far Mayberry’s vocal performance has come since the band’s 2013 debut album The Bones of What You Believe. However, a lot of the criticism can be put down to the top heavy structure of the album. Most of the singles, and the more ambitious content all rest in the first half of Love Is Dead, tailing off towards the end with a tired and unnecessarily drawn out finale.

Amongst this affluence of melody and synth, however, is ‘My Enemy’: a stripped back and significantly more solemn track, and one of the standout moments on the album. Here, Mayberry shares the limelight with The National’s frontman Matt Berninger, whose ability to subdue a listener into a cathartic state of melancholy never fails to disappoint. The combination of the two voices is a bold and successful move, an ambition that the album would only benefit from if shown more frequently throughout.

Love Is Dead is available now via Virgin Records.

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