Review Summary: A highly enjoyable album, that only suffers from its various musical inconsistencies.
It’s really hard not to like The Bones of What You Believe.
It plays on the listeners heartstrings, but is light and poppy enough for the casual listener. On closer evaluation however, it is emotionally intense but at times can be quite cheesy. The lyrics go from playfully joyous, to bursting with romantic melancholy. The opening track “The Mother We Share” is catchy, dreamy, and melodic, all without being pretentious or ill conceived. The latter faults I have listed are the only things that plagues this album really. The album goes from simply outstanding songwriting and pleasant on the ears synth pop, to boring and repetitive modern alternative. I absolutely adore the retro vibes this album gives, but sometimes the ideas feel a bit rehashed. “We Sink” is the second on the album, opening with some electric synth beats which immediately pull the listener in. The female vocals on this song are fantastic; Lauren Mayberry is delightful on the entire album to be honest. She has a voice that is soft, catchy, and simply angelic. The chorus to “We Sink” will surely be stuck in your head for days.
Then comes the third track, simply titled “Gun”. While this song is enjoyable, I don’t particularly find it interesting or extraordinary in any way. This brings me to my main point, being that Chvrches
are either a big hit or a big fat miss. I find that at least half of the tracks on here would be enjoyable as standalone singles, whereas the other half seem to just be filler. As track four rolls around, I remember why these guys are so intriguing. “Tether” makes me feel like I’m floating through space with some futuristic soundtrack in the background. It is romantic and nostalgic at the same time, which seems to be a recurrent theme on the album. “Tether” really makes the listener crave more of the signature Chvrches
sound, but strangely sounds too familiar (ie. Broods) The next track however, is an average new age alternative which serves as only a disappointment to the high provided by “Tether”. “Lies” is a song that just gets lost in the mix and is one of those filler songs I had mentioned earlier.
Next comes “Under the Tide”, which is easily one of my favourite songs. There is an interesting contrast between the male and female vocals which shows Chvrches
at their very best. There is perhaps a bias for me when it comes to this song, because it is highly relatable and holds an overall positive message. To me, it is quite reminiscent of a long distance relationship where one partner is afraid to express intense feelings for the other because it is a complicated situation. The lyrics tell of a story where it’s best to keep your head up and keep hope alive. This is perhaps why I’m so in love with the track. The astounding production value and dreamy atmosphere help to pull it all together. “If you can see and you believe, then why are you so scared?” It might be cheesy but it is certainly effective. What a beautifully composed song and all around pleasant experience.
Here comes the single “Recover”, which is completely overplayed on AltNation. While not a terrible song, I can’t help but be completely annoyed when it comes on. For no apparent reason, this song simply annoys me. Maybe it’s the high pitched vocals which try too hard to be different, or just that it’s quite repetitive. I really want to like this song, but I just don’t. “Night Sky” is just another one that doesn’t do much for me. It is not really unique nor does it bring anything new to the table. While it has great production value, it really walks the line between dreamy and boring (leaning more towards boring). The album continues with “Science / Visions”, which to me is just another average poppy tune. It really lacks any quality to make it memorable or outstanding. The one thing I liked about this song is that I can imagine hearing it on the Vice City soundtrack. Maybe it’s the Phil Collins’ style drumming or the overall 80’s vibe going on, but it is the only redeeming quality of the song.
“Lungs” is quite enjoyable and somewhat of a comeback after a three song slump. It’s upbeat and catchy, offering some strong bass while still being easy to listen to. Then back to the mediocrity with “By the Throat”; I’m not saying it’s a bad song by any means, but in contrast to some of the other songs here, it is just really disappointing. What I’m really trying to say is that The Bones of What You Believe
is an entirely inconsistent album, which is either highly enjoyable and well produced, or simply boring and lacklustre. Furthermore, many of these songs are highly repetitive and ineffective in their attempt at emotion. The album closes with “You Caught the Light” which (thankfully) brings back the enjoyable side of Chvrches.
Beautiful in its production and environment, this song really suits a long drive home on a rainy day. Perhaps you are missing someone who has either passed or is simply somewhere else geographically. This is a strong and romantic track which brings the album to a close in all the right ways.
I will only lightly touch on the bonus tracks, as I’ve rambled on enough for one day. Simply put, no surprises here being that one song is enjoyable and one is entirely forgettable. I really can’t decide whether this album is musically inconsistent or my musical tastes are inconsistent. Either way, I find myself in a love-hate relationship with Chvrches.
I am either completely in love with the song or I couldn’t care less about it. I shouldn’t say love-hate; what’s more accurate is love-indifference. The Bones of What You Believe
offers a few songs that are simply outstanding and should not be missed, but they are weighed down by the many mediocre tracks scattered throughout. I love this album, I really do, but I feel like it could have been much better. I have very high hopes for this band, they have certainly shown potential for greatness. What Chvrches
really need to do is to trim the fat in order to bring out the best of their abilities. The Bones of What You Believe
is a highly enjoyable album, but it suffers from its various musical inconsistencies.