In light of their overwhelming success across the pond, Glaswegian indie trio released their second album, Every Open Eye, back in September. Sticking to their humble beginnings, forgoing big-name production to “do-up” their self-owned Glasgow studio, the band returns with their signature brand of synth-pop. And it seems to have worked in their favour, with the end result amalgamating as a more defined follow up to 2013’s The Bones of What You Believe.
It’s a sound that translates as well live, as twinkling acoustics and galvanising synths reverberate excitedly around Brighton’s Dome Theatre as the band power on-stage with the electric new track Never Ending Circles. Effervescent lights behind them, their sound is immediately more polished – beats heavier, synths sharper and vocals more refined than in previous efforts. The pop aesthetic is still there, particularly in the upbeat Empty Threat and the ambitious, Erasure-esque Make Them Gold, but there’s more bite to this album, as though each and every note is written to fill the larger venues they aspire to.
Providing for older fans, the best tunes from The Bones Of What You Believe updated, the band switched seamlessly between albums – a popular dynamic, according to the crowd, who lap up unfamiliar melodies just as readily as their refurbished favourites. Science & Vision and We Sink are as thunderous and stormy as the darker, anthemic Keep You On My Side, while new single Clearest Blue nods to the 80s in the same way The Bones of What You Believe did with Gun. It’s a well-orchestrated balance between the two records, which played together side-by-side flow surprisingly well considering their two-year interval.
The variety continued throughout the night, extending from the tracks themselves to their delivery, with vocalist Lauren Mayberry gaining a set of drums, Iain Cook trading his synths for bass, and percussionist Martin Doherty taking centre stage with a lead vocal performance during Under the Tide. Even Mayberry’s on-stage charisma helped keep things interesting – something she’s gained criticism for in the past – as her mid-set anecdotal Scottish banter kept the trio accessible and down-to-earth, in spite of their evident success.
Seventeen songs later, we’re played out with where it all began with the band’s first release, The Mother We Share. However, in their first UK show since the release of Every Open Eye, Chvrches have proved they’ve come a long way, with a better and brighter sound than before.