At the beginning of this year, I was determined to try to keep up with as much new music as possible. My hope was that, by the end of the year, I could be somewhat knowledgeable in end-of-the-year discussions. It's a New Year's resolution I feel I try every year: to keep up with the times. Unfortunately, it was not easy to stay on track. Of course, other music--and other interests in general--took priority from time to time, and there was a lot of good music I missed as a result. Now, as I read lists around the Internet, what I missed has become very visible. But I definitely heard some excellent albums that I would not have gotten to otherwise. And none was more surprising or exciting than Chvrches' The Bones of What You Believe. Wow.
What could be expected from the three-piece electropop band from Scotland? Apparently, not much was expected. They essentially started the year in unknown obscurity with only a few singles and an EP that was a preview of the coming album. The album, while not necessarily an explosion into the mainstream, was an incredible debut nonetheless.
First off, this album is tremendously catchy. Is it wrong to claim that as a reason to enjoy an album? Possibly. But it's totally true. I put this album on daily for a month because it was such an enjoyable listen--without it becoming stale. It was to the point where one song would end, and I would already be eagerly anticipating the next song. On the brighter side of haunting, these are the types of songs that can get ingrained in your head for a day without even realizing it.
Not to mention, every song flows together effortlessly. The band sounds so much fuller than just three people. I realize that with the marvels of modern day mixing, we can have more than a typical number of sounds running simultaneously, but Chvrches utilizes an intense array of instruments, electronic sampling, and vocals that make them sound much more complete. Such a variety of sounds worked so well, all at once. I can't wait to see what else this band can do.
As is often the case when the center band member is female, it may seem easy to slap a sexist label on this band. Frontwoman, Lauren Mayberry, has certainly addressed this in a well crafted article, which was complete with responses to horrible messages on the band's Facebook page. But Chvrches transcends this feminist label. Accompanying vocals from the other two members of the band are wonderfully complementary. The dynamics of the band--how they work together--definitely make them a band to root for. A certain amount independence or even aggression is evident in early songs like, "We Sink", yet a perceived innocence shines through, for example, in the song, "Lungs." Truly, it is impossible not to fall in love with Mayberry after hearing such songs.
The Bones of What You Believe took me totally by surprise. I recognized the cover in a record store a week after it was released, but I did not give it much thought beyond that. After only a few listens, however, I was absolutely hooked. Without a doubt, it was the album I listened to most in 2013; I would also have to say it was my favorite. From the opening vocals of "The Mother We Share" to the Cure-esque guitars1 of album closer, "You Caught the Light," this album is an amazing ride.
1 I'm serious: 0:31-1:46 could be lifted right from Disintegration sessions.↩