CHVRCHES – SCREEN VIOLENCE REVIEW

One awesome thing about music is how it can make a person reminisce on great memories and remember times when they were very happy. We all have certain artists and certain songs that bring us back to a time of joy and bliss, and when we hear these artists and songs it usually puts us in a good mood. Chvrches is a band that I first started listening to in a fun and exciting period of my life. I had just moved out of my parents’ house and was surrounded by interesting people and was overall having a great time; whenever I hear certain older songs by Chvrches, it makes me think about those days. Chvrches are an Indie-Pop band from Scotland that formed in 2011. They make a brand of Synth-Pop that is entirely unique to them; with how eclectic their melodies and beats are and with how distinctive their lead singer’s voice is, it is easy to identify a new song by Chvrches when you hear it because there is no one like them. Their music has dark and upbeat New Wave tendencies similar to bands like New Order and Depeche Mode, but their music also has bright and vibrant qualities to it like Madonna or Robyn. Chvrches is one of the most refreshing, innovative, and exciting Indie-Pop acts that has emerged in the last 10 years; I would consider quite a few of their tracks as some of my favorites from the 2010s. Their newest album, Screen Violence, is said to have a little bit of a gloomy and serious tone to it. This will be interesting to hear since they are typically known for having such a glowing and spirited sound. With that being said, here is my opinion on Chvrches’ new album Screen Violence. Please let me know in the comments below how you feel about this record, and please let me know what your favorite songs are from Screen Violence.

So what do you say when you lose your way? The past is in the past. It isn’t meant to last. But if I can’t let go, will you carry me home? Can we celebrate the end? I’m asking for a friend… – ‘Asking For a Friend’

Screen Violence starts with the song ‘Asking For a Friend.’ the more melancholy and shadowy tone this album is supposed to have comes through right away in the lyricism and melody. This song has a sound that feels like a mixture between 80s New Wave and Europop for the late 90s. It is a lot faster-paced than I expected; Chvrches music usually has a pretty neutral tempo, and this track feels a lot more like Dance-Pop than traditional Indie Synth-Pop. On ‘Asking For a Friend,’ lead singer Lauren Mayberry is singing about how her past relationships have traumatized her so much and how she deeply regrets losing one particular person. She wants to forget everything that’s happened in her past and just be with this person but knows it will never happen. The Dance-Pop feeling of the instrumental creates an interesting juxtaposition with the song’s lyricism, which I feel will be a theme on this record. The next song, ‘He Said She Said,’ was released as the first single from this record back in April. This track has another sound that I have not heard from Chvrches up until this point. The production of this song reminds me of melodic Dubstep music. The chorus has a drop in the beat that reminds me so much of artists like Porter Robinson, Flume, and Seven Lions. I like this sound from Chvrches, as it makes Lauren Mayberry’s voice pop even more. In this song, Lauren is singing about being in a relationship with a man who makes her feel like shit and doesn’t support her with her mental health. He constantly told her what to do and how to feel, and ripped her apart. Following this, we get the song ‘California,’ which is quickly becoming a fan favorite. This song fits in the with 80s Pop revival that has become super popular over the last couple of years. ‘California’ has more of a Goth and New Wave feeling than anything you would hear from The Weeknd or Dua Lipa. If I didn’t recognize Lauren Mayberry’s voice, I might believe someone if they told me this song came out in the late 80s because the instrumental is so retro. I could see this song being at the end of a John Hughes-style coming-of-age movie. On this track, Lauren Mayberry is singing about another failed relationship that took a major toll on her. The tone of these lyrics goes very well with the songs’ melody, as they both do not provide a positive or happy feeling.

‘Violent Delights’ is a song with an overall feeling that I would not expect from Chvrches; this song has a lot more of a harsher tone than most people would expect from them. Chvrches is known for having more of a clean and crisp element to their production, and this song’s melody and riffs are more dirty and distorted than I have heard from them before. This is an interesting direction for Chvrches to go in, and I like it, as it brings out Lauren Mayberry’s voice once again. In this song, Lauren covers topics of depression and suicide. This song has a very dark lyrical tone, and it goes with the instrumental well. Following this, we get the second single released in anticipation for this record, ‘How Not To Drown.’ It features Robert Smith from the legendary Goth band The Cure. Robert Smith’s influence on the sound of this song is immediately noticeable; the guitar tone that provides the melody has a distinct Goth Rock feeling to it. This song’s lyrics have a very cryptic feeling to them. It is describing what sounds like an abusive relationship in the terms of drowning and death. It is an interesting song that pushes Chvrches boundaries in a cool way. Following this, we get the song ‘Final Girl.’ It is another song with a distinctively 80s feeling to it. It feels like a mixture between late 80s New Wave and Pop music. I could see this song playing during the climax of some dramatic 80s movie. The guitar riff on this song has such a warm feeling; it reminds me a lot of a sunset. On this track, Lauren seems to be singing about her tumultuous relationship with her dad. It seems like one of the reasons she ran away from her hometown and ended up having the life she has is because of this relationship.

Is it easier when you don’t have to count to ten? When you don’t have to pretend? I want to know that feeling. Is it easier when you don’t have to start again? When you don’t wanna make amends? I want to know that feeling… – ‘Good Girls’

‘Good Girls’ was the final single released before this album came out. This is one of my favorite songs from the second have of 2021. It has a classic Chvrches feeling to it that reminds me of some of their hits. It has a very bright and vibrant production style and just puts me in a good mood. In ‘Good Girls,’ Lauren is singing about how her crappy past relationships have made her cold-hearted now. She likes to take advantage of “weaker men” now and doesn’t deal with anyone’s bullshit because she doesn’t seem to care anymore. The next song, ‘Lullabies,’ is another track that reminds me a lot of 80s Pop. This track has less of a New Wave feel to it, though, and more of a traditional 80s Synth Pop sound. It reminds me a lot of artists like Laura Branigan and Belinda Carlisle. It has a sweet groove that will make anyone want to dance. On ‘Lullabies,’ Lauren once again creates an interesting juxtaposition between the lyricism and sound of the song. ‘Lullabies’ is another song about Lauren’s spiraling mental health. In this song, it feels as if the trauma Lauren has been through has put her in a mental space that seems to be falling into despair. ‘Nightmares’ is the most eclectic and unique sounding song on this record. I have never really heard Chvrches push their boundaries as they do on this one. The tempo and flow of this song(especially at the beginning) reminds me of ‘He Said She Said’ because it has that melodic Dubstep feeling to it. This song feels a lot more bold and grand than that one, though. ‘Nightmares’ is very heavy sounding and has quite a bit of distortion in it. The song even has a sort of Heavy Metal breakdown at the end. In ‘Nightmares,’ Lauren is coming to terms with the ending of a bad relationship and realizing that she shouldn’t take all of the blame. She has bad memories whenever she thinks about this person and relationship, but at least she is coming to terms with how she feels about it. The album closes out with ‘Better If You Don’t,’ which is the only song on the album without much in the way of synthesizers. This song has more of a Slacker Rock feeling to it than anything. It reminds me a bit of the new Alternative music star Beabadoobee. Lauren’s voice sticks out in the Rock sound; it makes her sound very somber. ‘Better If You Don’t’ is a song about letting go. Lauren is finally content with what happened in her previous relationship, and she is ready to just move on. This song is necessarily a happy ending, but it does provide the right amount of closure.

Up until this point, I have always thought of Chvrches as a very consistent band. For the most part, when I have heard about a new Chvrches song is out over the last several years, I knew what I was going to get before listening. On-Screen Violence, though, Chvrches flips this sentiment. They push their boundaries and sound on this album unlike ever before. I appreciate the variety of influences and kinds of music highlighted in this record. Chvrches did an excellent album at expanding their horizon while still staying true to themselves. Screen Violence shows that Chvrches is not getting complacent at all and that they are still at the top of the mountain when it comes to Alternative Synth-Pop.

Favorite Tracks: Asking For A Friend, He Said She Said, Violent Delights, How Not to Drown feat. Robert Smith, Final Girl, Good Girls, Nightmares

8.27/10

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