By Rusty Hatchell – Staff Contributor
Run Time: 42:02 (Deluxe: 55:14) Pros: consistent energy, unpredictable song structures Cons: hard to decide if better or same as debut album Overall Grade: A Two years after Scottish synthpop trio CHVRCHES exploded on the scene with their first album “The Bones of What You Believe,” patient fans have finally been gifted the highly-anticipated sophomore release. What frontwoman Lauren Mayberry and very talented instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty offer is a 42-minute (Deluxe: 55-minute) album full of consistent energy from dancefloor singles (“Clearest Blue”) to emotionally-complex ballads (“Afterglow”).
The beats and rhythms are a bit more clean-sounding than their debut album, but the band members were careful to not sound overly-polished, a flawed characteristic of many other pop albums of recent years. But what truly stands as a testament of dedication to the band’s identity and direction is the emotional value of every track on the album. Mayberry, a rising figure against the misogynist trends in social media, soars as a powerful vocalist on rhythmic anthems (“Keep You on My Side”) and ambient tracks (“Down Side of Me”) alike. A pleasant surprise in the album comes on the 6th track (“High Enough to Carry You Over”) as Doherty takes over lead vocals in a slightly-jarring, but smartly-produced decision.
Overall, fans will be very pleased with the sounds of the new release. Hopefully, it will not be another two years until the third release, but the time spent on this release is much appreciated.