CHVRCHES - Love is Dead
Love is Dead
Chvrches burst onto the scene with an almost immediate impact back in 2013. The soaring synths, the crystal clear vocals of Lauren Mayberry and aggressive streak lead to them being one of the most powerful voices in pop music. They could fill arenas, crush main festival stages while still singing songs about really personal heartbreak and emotion. Each new track was a new hook you just couldn't wait to sing at the top of your lungs. These first few sentences might seem like I'm writing a eulogy, but things are not quite that dire. This new record, Love is Dead, certainly has it's moments but it feels like more of a shift to the middle for Chvrches than anything they have done before. The album busts through with the exuberant "Graffiti" setting the scene for being young but wanting to be remembered but things start to slide off from there. "Deliverance" is in a word... odd. Mayberry starts the song with a ton of religious allusions, I mean a whole lot of them almost to the point of being ridiculous. The song then descends into some kind of clunky pop mess, but in typical Chvrches there is still a great electronic beat lurking somewhere deep in the background. The song just sounds so broad it lacks any kind of edge. If you are going to take on these religious themes and tie them into a love story you really need to be ready to say something bold, this track just isn't. One of the first singles was a duet with The National's Matt Berninger "My Enemy" which sounds like it should be incredible but falls flatter than anything else on the record. Their voices just never square, and it sounds like eight songs at once with zero through line connecting them.
The thing that always stood out about Chvrches is how they rejected the normal platitudes in pop music and never fell into those "EDM" themes in their songwriting. However on Love is Dead songs like "Forever", "Never Say Die" and "Deliverance" all rely on these played out tropes. These tracks are going to sound incredible with 50 thousand people singing them at the top of their lungs, but as pieces of music they just feel, plain. I honestly can't wait to see them again and watch "Never Say Die" live, but I just can't find myself listening to it on the regular. "Miracle" legit sounds like an Imagine Dragons song, which for Chvrches is not a good thing. The thing Chvrches will always have going for them though is just how tight their sound is. Everything on this record is razor sharp, every note punching right where it should. On Love is Dead this precision almost feels over done missing out on some of the more messy sounds they are able to accomplish when they are letting the synths out in full force. This record just feels more like a placeholder than the real juicy stuff when it comes to Chvrches, and if their bumps sound this good maybe that's ok.
6.1 out of 10