Review Summary: Judge this book by its cover.
Some records are the sonic equivalent to their album art. Sadly, Chvrches’ latest offering Love Is Dead
is one of those albums. After two records full of bright, catchy electropop, the band takes a turn for the worse by combining bland songwriting with an overall aesthetic similar to the obnoxious album art.
The longer you stare at the cover, the worse it gets. Love Is Dead
progresses in the same way. The first two tracks are very decent, capturing the fun, youthful spirit of earlier Chvrches releases. Especially lead single 'Get Out' stands out, thriving off its simplistic yet infectious chorus. However, once 'My Enemy' rears its ugly head, Love Is Dead takes a massive nosedive. The song is one of the blandest and most boring songs the band has ever produced, with the dreadful chorus "you could be my enemy"
repeated to death. Matt Berninger’s feature on the track is both perfect and horrendous: his trite vocals sound about as bored as anyone would be with the song. While it does not help 'My Enemy' in any way, his delivery makes for a nice, unintentional comedic moment.
Somehow, Love Is Dead
actually manages to get worse after 'My Enemy' with the absolutely horrendous creatures known as 'Forever' and 'Never Say Die'. Both tracks are practically identical, featuring headache-inducing repetition. Chvrches’ past music often included a lot of repetition, however, they knew how to turn it into something catchy or interesting enough to not be obnoxious. This does not go for most of their new album. The aforementioned 'Forever' includes the word ‘forever’ a grand total of 79 times. It’s absolutely painful to listen to. While the shimmery clean production was to be expected, it doesn’t help that every sound seems to pushed to the front as much as possible. The vocals and instrumentation are constantly fighting for the spotlight, making for a rather exhausting listen.
The terrible production is especially bothersome on 'Miracle'. The song is not the worst one on Love Is Dead
, but by far the most unsatisfactory. The first 45 seconds build tension masterfully, after which the track absolutely implodes. The expected energetic chorus is nowhere to be found; instead, the band opts for some bland woah-oahs and an attempt at achieving an awful arena-pop feel, which they fully accomplish. Besides this, the awful effect layered over vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s “call to action” vocals before the chorus sound like she is screaming through a megaphone directly into your ear. It’s not very pleasant.
Another problem with Love Is Dead
is its length. At 50 minutes, listening all the way through in one sitting is a challenge in itself. This is a shame; the back half of the record features some solid cuts. On the other hand, anything that comes after the godawful mid-section will sound good. Thankfully, even taken out of the context of Love Is Dead
, 'Really Gone' and 'Graves' hold up. The latter manages to capture Chvrches at their most fun, featuring an eclectic chorus and driving instrumentals. Unlike most of the album, its repetition actually works and makes for a catchy song that carries reminders of the band at their prime.
As a whole, Love Is Dead
is a frustrating album. Overlong, incohesive and at times downright awful, the record’s glaring flaws overshadow its best songs. Judge this book by its cover, read the first few chapters and decide it’s not worth your time. Exceptionally boring closer Wonderland sums up the entirety of the record with the lyric: “Why can’t I turn it off”? Because, trust me, you will aggressively turn off whatever you’re playing Love Is Dead
on when the song mentions that word ‘forever’ again. *** off.