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Written Before Listen

CHVRCHES is a synthpop trio who I honestly don’t know much about. They are pretty popular in the indie scene and they have gained a pretty good following. This album is my introduction to them but I have heard their name previously in other ways. I don’t know how or where but the name does sound familiar. I didn’t know what they were about until Screen Violence came out. I also listened to some of their previous hits to get ready for this review. Without further ado, let’s get into it


The production of this record is more towards the electronic side. A lot of drum machines, a lot of analog synths, and some rhythmic bass. It’s like if Porter Robinson did an album that was inspired by 80s Alternative Pop Rock. A lot like other modern synthpop acts, CHVRCHES are very modern sounding while taking a lot of cues from the past. That could be from the drum machines, the synth choices, or the occasional live instruments on songs like “Final Girl” and “Better If You Don’t”. I don’t think the instrumentals are the most unique in this genre, but I think that the mixing was done well, the instrumentation was done well and the goal was accomplished.


CHVRCHES throughout the album is devoted to synthpop music, but with tracks like “How To Not Drown”, “Nightmares” and others, CHVRCHES direct themselves in an alternative rock direction. On “Final Girl” and “Better If You Don’t” they go for a more accessible Pop Rock sound that is reminiscent of bands like The Smiths and REM. Alongside this, there are semi-strong connections to dance music, synth wave, and dream pop as well. CHVRCHES stay strong to their synthpop routes while being diverse.

Vocal Performance

One thing that separates CHVRCHES from the rest of the synthpop groups is that their singer is very good at creating melodies. Especially on songs like “How Not To Drown” and “Good Girls” as Lauren Mayberry goes toward the high register without sounding like she’s trying too hard. Sometimes she struggles to keep a consistent performance rate, but when she does kill it, she KILLS it.

Crossover Appeal

One thing that I could note is that CHVRCHES make very accessible pop music, but it also separates itself from people like The Chainsmokers, Miley Cyrus, and Katy Perry. First off, the lyrical subject matter avoids cliches, Unfortunately, that’s about it. CHVRCHES are good at creating pop songs, but do they differentiate from everyone else? Not really. For people like Carly Rae Jepsen, Taylor Swift, and Dua Lipa, they create pop music that completely separates them from everyone else. CHVRCHES just create music that’s toward the enjoyable side of pop music.


Alongside that, there are some songs that I just wasn’t keen on. The song “Nightmares” for example. I think the heavier drop and more industrial influences just don’t fit the group. There’s nothing super outlandish about this project, but it is still enjoyable.


Overall, I liked this project. It’s good if you’re in the mood for some simple synthpop, but as a pop record goes, it’s not as powerful on lyrics as the Japanese Breakfast record. It’s not as progressive as the Spellling record. It’s a good pop record.


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