CHVRCHES – Every Open Eye
Scotland’s CHVRCHES blew up the scene in 2013 with a debut album, The Bones Of What You Believe, that was the best synth pop album since Violator. It’s hard to follow up that kind of a meteoric album; you would need a synth pop masterpiece, or, more likely, a pop masterpeice. Every Open Eye is not that album, but then again what could be?
It is a really well-crafted album, though. The three opening tracks – “Never Ending Circles”, “Leave A Trace”, and the sublime “Keep You On My Side” – are CHVRCHES firing on all pistons, songs that take the groundwork laid on the debut and building more complex, darker structures from them. Then it falls off, with only “Clearest Blue” and “Playing Dead” really standing apart from the more mundane pieces that surround them. Even those mundane pieces, however, are great examples of good pop music, and Lauren Mayberry presents herself as the perfect pop frontwoman, taking charge in the choruses but letting the synth and drum work speak for itself when appropriate.
Every Open Eye suffers from having such a barn-burner as The Bones Of What You Believe as its predecessor. If this were CHVRCHES’ debut, it would seem freer, more expansive; it would be a solid rocket and a reason to expect greater things. Since we’ve already seen those greater things, this album becomes a placeholder of sorts; we know they’re capable of greater things, so now we have this sophomore album to tide us over until they (presumably) blow all of our minds with their instant classic third album.