Monday, May 3rd, 2021

CHVRCHES – He Said She Said

Mvybe I cvn see vs moving like thvt / Mvybe I cvn see vs tovching like thvt / Bvby I cvn see vs kissing like thvt…


Leah Isobel: This is a little bland, but CHVRCHES haven’t been aiming for distinctive, or cool, since… 2015, at least. Instead, “He Said She Said” builds on their more durable strengths: propulsive drum programming, Lauren’s considerable presence, and enough melodic oomph to grab attention in some Urban Outfitters dressing room somewhere. It’s the kind of girlboss comfort food that’s easy to make fun of, and just as easy to return to.

Katie Gill: CHVRCHES saw the synthpop, 1980s, After Hours/Future Nostalgia revival that’s still going on and went “shit, this is our bread and butter, we’ve already done that, let’s just dial it up to 11.” Even more synthpop! Even louder mixing! Even more power from Lauren Mayberry to the point where I kind of want to give her a throat lozenge! This is a song built entirely on excess and blowing out one’s speakers and honestly, it’s quite fun as well.

Tim de Reuse: CHVRCHES usually show at least a nominal interest in exploring the “synth” part of synth-pop, but here everything is coated in an amount of papery reverb that no interesting textures could possibly survive. The lead vocal is stretched thin under bafflingly astringent production; hard to imagine, listening to this, that their debut album at times sounded warm and fuzzy! Their singles have always been bombastic, but never have they strained so hard and achieved so little. Here they teeter on the edge of the same emotional uncanny valley that Imagine Dragons have gleefully built their entire careers careening through, wherein all moments must be awe-inspiring and, as a result, all moments are boring.

Alfred Soto: I don’t know whom this trio record music for. Rummaging through the detritus of Sheffield and Bristol-born synth acts should produce songs with more urgency than CHVRCHES has released. The Weeknd could hum a less limp chorus between breakfast and naps. “It’s so hard to know what’s right,” Lauren Mayberry sigh-chirps, as if she knew.

Hannah Jocelyn: The message is not too different from any given mid-2010s female empowerment single, but Lauren Mayberry proves that sometimes mere venting will do the trick. She can try to bury it and rise above, but it’s impossible to fully escape the mixed messages that come with being a woman. If “he said ‘you need to be fed, but keep an eye on your waistline'” feels cliché, it’s because of how little has changed; even the attempts at body positivity and neutrality are directed at changing ones own view instead of the views of those doing the shaming, who are difficult to change. However, just like a song called “Drunk Girls” should feel like being one and not accosted like one, I don’t actually want to feel like I’m losing my mind (feel like I’m losing my mind) when hearing that chorus pummeled over and over. It’s not unpleasant to listen to, and actually features some of the band’s cleanest production in years — with no Glassnote executive yelling at them to MAKE IT LOUDER! ADD SOME WOAHS!. But there’s so much untapped potential: No bridge, no build after the second chorus, and no additional section that deepens the meaning beyond ‘misogyny sucks.’ This song winds up slightly underwhelming after repeat listens. That said, the lack of escape from losing your mind might be the point. Platitudes won’t fix the patriarchy, and one person in one Scottish synth-pop trio certainly can’t.

Sonia Yang: It’s interesting to hear bluntly worded social commentary in a CHVRCHES song when the majority of their lyrics tend to be in the vein of “vague and universal but captures a vivid emotional mood as opposed to a concrete experience”. Mayberry’s voice is mixed sharp and brittle, slicing through the atmosphere like shards of glass; it’s as if the air in “Dead Air” spontaneously combusted. CHVRCHES’ last LP Love is Dead was all dark shadows masking an underlying warmth. If “He Said She Said” is to set the tone for the new album, then it may possibly be a full heat blast of light to the face.

Andrew Karpan: A song about getting stuck that gets rather loudly stuck itself. Mostly this happens toward the chorus, a crudely anonymous breakdown that lacks the contemplation of a good Purity Ring single or at least the mawkish pretension of Grimes. The problem, I think, with all of Lauren Mayberry’s records since the first one is the boldness of their ambition, how much they want to do. They come heaving like press releases authored in glowing neon, speaking to everyone and no one at once.

Samson Savill de Jong: The song pulls of the surprisingly hard musical trick of sounding like it’s losing its mind when the singer tells you they are. I feel like I’m being played by a lot of cheap tricks, repetition in the verses to really hammer the message home, softening up in the bridge to contrast with the distortion of the chorus and verses, playing good music well to make me think this is good, that sort of thing. But the reason people use those techniques is because they work, and yeah, this all works.

Katherine St Asaph: The CHVRCHES formula executed, errror-free: Lauren Mayberry’s laser-bright voice (albeit, in a few places, vocoded in worryingly Zeddish fashion); synths bursting like landmines; a moment of catharsis prompting it all. It’s been long enough since the last outing that it all feels exciting again.

Reader average: [4] (3 votes)

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2 Responses to “CHVRCHES – He Said She Said”

  1. love the svbhevd

  2. I originally had it as “not an Ashley Tisdale cover (but god how amazing would that be)”

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