CHVRCHES - Every Open Eye(Enhanced Edition)
Easily 2015’s best album is repackaged in an Enhanced Edition, If you missed it first time around make sure you pick up the Scottish trio’s second album in it’s definitive form.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t blogging much last year so I failed to offer my opinion on what was easily the best album released in 2015, it’s no secret I’m a massive fan of the Scottish synth-pop trio that is CHVRCHES (consisting of Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty, and Ian Cook). I started following the band when they released their debut album The Bones of What You Believe back in 2013 and have seen them live multiple times since. What’s evident with this album and their recent performances is the remarkable achievement of being able to consistently improve with each new song and set.
The Enhanced Edition consist’s of last year’s stellar Every Open Eye plus a couple bonus tracks and a few remixes, I’m going to give my opinion on the whole album for those that missed out the first time around.
Compared to their debut, Every Open Eye somehow feels more uplifting, more grander and larger sounding yet it keeps that CHVRCHES feel about it that they defined so well with their first effort, it’s that unique second album that is both different and unique that you don’t feel like your just hearing more of the same but it’s not going to alienate any of the original fans.
The album opens with the thumping beats of the anthem ‘Never Ending Circles’ which will have you singing along with Lauren on the chorus of “Here’s to never ending circles’ and shouting along to “I don’t regret it!, I don’t regret it!”. It’s followed by the first single ‘Leave A Trace’ following on with the theme of closure as she sings of needing relief and release. The glittery and upbeat synths only pick up the pace in the album’s most light tracks ‘Keep You On My Side’ and the aptly named ‘Make Them Gold’.
Easily the highlight of the album is ‘Clearest Blue’ an epic song which builds and builds before they lose control and have you throwing your arms in the air response to the Just Can’t Get Enough styled drop and synth beats, it’s already proven to be the song of the festival season as two Glastonbury festival-goers showed.
Martin Doherty’s vocals take centre stage for ‘High Enough To Carry You Over’ It’s a brilliant uplifting love track and show’s what a diverse band they are, it’s incredibly well written. Doherty also appears on bonus track ‘Follow You' which is a more downbeat track and is much more in tune with his tracks from their debut such as Under The Tide.
‘Empty Threat’ follows and it’s pure pop perfection from the first note to the last, a triumphant anthem which sees Lauren show off her skills on the drums, her voice soars on the line ‘set my sight’s hiiiiiiiigh enooooooough’ before the big ‘F You’ chorus that is ‘taking back an empty threat’ with your fists pumping in the air alongside it.
The longest track on the main album is ‘Down Side Of Me’ it clocks in at just over 5 minutes, it’s both impressive technically and the harmonies are perfect as Lauren’s voice intertwines with her own in what can only be described as a unique duet. the track dips before it soars and will have you shouting ‘I believe, I believe!’ at the top of your lungs. it’s one of the most interesting tracks the band has made, it’s complex and rates as one of their best ever tracks.
The closest thing to filler on the album has to be ‘Playing Dead’ it’s a solid track but I find it struggles to stand out amongst the more dominant, unique sounds on the album. Back when the album was first released I thought I could be listening to Paramore when I heard the loud punk like sounds of ‘Bury It’ the track see’s Lauren defiantly shouting the powerful chorus, of course I wasn’t the only one to see the comparisons as Hayley Williams herself turned out to be a massive fan of the band, this led to multiple onstage collaborations between the two before resulting in the studio remix of the track featuring Hayley’s vocals which appears towards the end of the album.
The main album finishes with ‘Afterglow’ like previous songs it keeps building to what you think would be a dramatic climax, instead it never comes, Lauren softly sing’s “I’ve given up all I can, I’ve given up all I can” it’s a much needed reflective breather on the album.
Bonus tracks include the single ‘Get Away’ which was released back when the band were still touring their debut in 2014, made specifically for the Drive Radio 1 soundtrack, the sound fits somewhere between the two albums and Martin’s distorted synth vocals during choruses is a joy to behold.
Yet to be played live and only featuring on the deluxe album originally is the much under appreciated ‘Bow Down’ it’s a strange mix of powerful lyrics andmore melancholic synth melodies, Lauren also sounds different, with more softer tones in the verses before one of their unique punchy choruses.
The three featured remixes of Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue and Empty Threat are all unique and different takes on the original’s with new beats and varying alterations to the vocal’s but for me is nothing special and feel quite jarring in tone to the album but could be of interest to some listeners.
One of my all-time favorite game’s is 2008’s Mirror’s Edge, it’s sequel Catalyst was finally released this year and I was delighted to find out that CHVRCHES would be doing the main theme for it, the track ‘Warning Call’ features on the Enhanced Edition. sounding unlike anything they’ve done before, the synth’s are very similar to the sounds Solar Field’s has already created for the game and show’s just why they were the perfect match for the series, as you can imagine running through a futuristic city with “it’s a memory, it’s a memory” blaring out around you.
CHVRCHES have somehow done the impossible in creating not just a brilliant album, but an album which both evolves their sound and showcases their growth as a band whilst still standing out from their previous work. The band just like their sound have continued to rise through the ranks, one more album as good as this and it’s easy to see them making the final leap to festival and arena headliner.