Making an almighty comeback, CHVRCHES have returned and as album titles come, ‘Love Is Dead’ is a feisty one to behold. But don’t be fooled by this negative name, as ultimately the electro-pop trio are a battery of bright, rallying choruses that break free of disheartening despair. Heavily weighty with fiery doom and gloom, Lauren Mayberry masters the art of colourfully abstract lyrics.
Exbuberant and nostalgic first track ‘Graffiti’ is followed by lead single ‘Get Out’, which is a punchy plea for persona and politics. ‘Deliverance’, a crisp warning against the presumptions of religion, and incisive ’Graves’ rages against apathy. On ‘Graves’ Lauren sings: “Leaving bodies in stairwells and washing up on the shore,” topped by deceptively cheerful synths and crisp snares, alluding towards tragedies such as last year’s Grenfell Tower and the European refugee crisis. “Oh baby, you can look away / While they’re dancing on our graves / But I will stop at nothing,” goes the anthemic chorus.
For every sunburst, though, there’s a few slower tracks on the record including ‘My Enemy’ which comes across as a sluggish duet, featuring The National’s Matt Berninger. Their bleak acidic, sharp-edged peaks makes your heart flutter, however they both sing like they’re delivering dispassionate solos creeping in with a breaking hearts snap of beats. Similarly ‘God’s Plan’ adopts the same mysterious approach.
Elsewhere ‘Love Is Dead’ takes a subtler tact, but the shift holds well with a strong pop transformation. It manages to balance hopeful, utopian pop with a darker, gloomier undercurrent. While ‘Get Out’ and ‘Forever’ seem like falling-out-of-love songs at first glance, they’re also vessels for a wider exploration of taking ownership of your actions. “I will always think I’m right / But I always regret that night I told you I would hate you ’til forever,” Mayberry sings on ‘Forever’, admitting guilt and resolve in a single sentence.
Ending on the optimistic power ballad, ‘Wonderland’ brings it to a close, with the love burning harder than ever. Love may not be dead after all.
Words: Lauren McDermott
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