Monday, May 28th, 2018

Chvrches – Miracle

A distinctly minor one, perhaps…


Vikram Joseph: Listening to new Chvrches material feels like trying to relocate the spark in a relationship that was once effortlessly electrifying. “The Bones of What You Believe” soundtracked so much of my life for a year or so, mostly after dark — bus rides back from late shifts; stumbling drunk and glowing from the pub; hopeful, tight-chested tube journeys home from doomed dates. The songs were club-sized but intimate, relentlessly pop but uncommonly esoteric, and even when the lyrics painted in broad brushstrokes, they felt somehow personal. The difficult thing is that, on “Miracle,” most of the pieces are ostensibly still in place — pretty arpeggiated synth lines, cavernous half-time drops, Lauren Mayberry’s gorgeous vocals — but, as with so many of the rest of their post-“Bones” songs, something feels missing. Maybe it’s just predictability creeping in — their sound has hardly changed at all — or maybe it’s lacking a certain tension that used to be inherent to their songs. It still sounds fine; it just doesn’t make me feel much.

Tim de Reuse: You know, I dated a dude who loved Chvrches around the time they released their second album. He tried to keep up enthusiasm for it but the best he could manage was a mutter of “‘Clearest Blue’ is pretty good, I guess,” and I distinctly remember the look of blank disappointment he wore while listening to his favorite band distance themselves from the scrappy aesthetic they had when they were still just a bunch of Scottish synthpop upstarts. Now that they’ve seen that process to its completion and slipped all the way over to writing big-drop stadium pop that just happens to use a pleasant Moog here and there — and now that the Stranger Things era has thoroughly saturated our ears with glossy worship of that particular brand of synthesizer anyway — I can only imagine he’d be even less excited about this latest development. I mean, I wasn’t into it from the beginning, as much as I tried to relate, and this certainly isn’t convincing me now.

Ryo Miyauchi: Though first promoted to different crowds, time has come to show that Chvrches and PVRIS have been somewhat contemporaries in this corner of pop that pushed electronic music as the new arena rock. “Miracle” finds the former meeting up with the latter, especially with that howling chorus built around glass shards and cataclysm. They color it with just enough neon synths to mark the record as theirs, but a deeper connection to the dance floor would’ve done this track some good.

Ian Mathers: Hmm. Chvrches were first presented to me as synthpop (and sure, something like the still peerless “The Mother We Share” fits, I think), but either they’ve always been more modern EDM than I thought or I just didn’t notice (as in, this reminds me of Zedd ft. Foxes more than OMD). And you may say “well, is there that much of a difference?” and I don’t honestly know, but I know they feel differently and I think framing things one way or another probably affects how they’re received. So noticing that about “Miracle” might be part of enjoying it more than just about anything from the band I’ve heard since “The Mother We Share.” Which may be a me thing and not a them thing; I’m just glad it sounds this good.

Katherine St Asaph: A potentially good Chvrches song heartbreakingly handed off to Steve Mac, who is heartbreakingly emulating Imagine Dragons. Is cash flow really that bad?

Iain Mew: In tonal terms, it’s not that big a step from doing a whole song build-up to a Depeche Mode riff drop, to going full electro modern rock stomp, but it’s one of the most striking moments on Love is Dead. There’s still something of the cool kid trying out the mosh pit to it, though. Even as they’re bouncing around there’s a sense it could be more fun if they threw themselves into it more completely. 

Juan F. Carruyo : This one goes loud-quiet-loud but never really goes boom and while it strives to be danceable it ultimately ends up too self-conscious and epic to allow itself to have a little fun. 

Stephen Eisermann: I’ve always been a sucker for anthemic choruses and this over-produced, hand-clap accompanied noisefest is no exception. Though the song threads familiar water, it’s just catchy enough to earn a place on the late night, alcohol and drug infused dance-floor jam out, even if it’s forgotten in the painful morning after.

Alfred Soto: It sports an anguish and urgency of which they were often capable but didn’t often demonstrate. The whoa-oh-ohs and the massiveness of those stacked chorus synths abjure resolution. “I’m not asking for a miracle,” Lauren Mayberry insists, willing herself to believe. 

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