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From the book 1001 Albums You Must Hear Before You Die.

The Bones Of What You Believe

CHVRCHES

2013

Buy At Rough Trade
The Bones Of What You Believe
Album Summary

The Bones of What You Believe is the debut studio album by Scottish synth-pop band Chvrches, released on 20 September 2013 by Virgin Records and Goodbye Records. Recorded between 2011 and 2013 in Glasgow, the album was written, composed, and produced by the band as a collaborative effort. The album was debuted with a launch party broadcast live on music streaming platform Boiler Room. The album's title derives from a lyric in the song "Strong Hand"; according to frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, it refers to the raw "creativity and effort" that served as the figurative and literal skeleton for the album. Musically, The Bones of What You Believe is primarily a synth-pop and indie pop album that incorporates 1980s influences. The Bones of What You Believe received critical acclaim, with many complimenting Mayberry's songwriting and vocal performance, and Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's use of synthesisers and vocal loops. The album spawned seven singles: "The Mother We Share", "Recover", "Gun", "Lies", "We Sink", "Under the Tide" and "Tether", with the lead single becoming a moderate commercial success, charting in the top 10 in Belgium and Japan, as well as the top 40 in the United Kingdom. It also peaked at number 12 on the Alternative Songs chart in the United States.

Wikipedia

Rating

3.21

Votes

10801

Genres

  • Electronica
  • Pop

Reviews

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View Author
Sat May 13 2023
5

This made me feel so real, so big, and so alive. It made me want to run barefoot across a dewy field with all my energy until I get tired. It made me want to conquer the sky. It made me want to aggressively put positive energy in myself while commuting.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
4

I was honestly shocked to see CHVRCHΞS (people always remember the "vee" but not the "equivalent to") on here but they definitely belong. This is not my favorite album of theirs but maybe since it was their debut album it makes sense for this list. This is not normally the kind of music that appeals to me, but this album is fantastic. Maybe it's the 80s feel, or the clever (without being eye-roll-y) lyrics, or the lead singer's sheer charisma. Whatever it is, it's a great listen. 4.5 stars.

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Mon Sep 25 2023
4

Vsvally, synth-pop albvms don't do mvch for me becavse of the pavcity of uariety. The bvbblgvm chorvses are not vnlike the vnceasing hvm in the backgrovnd of Christopher Nolan's Dvnkirk, except that I'm qvite svre he was actvally trying to make his avdience vncomfortable. Howeuer, this albvm was a departvre from the rvle. Best track: Recouer

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Fri Apr 21 2023
5

I added this album to my collection a few years ago based on the song Science/Visions that played at the end of a podcast episode I had listened to. The rest of the album does not disappoint. Chvrches takes synth-pop to epic stadium levels and I love the lead singer and the construction of the songs. Great!

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Wed Jun 07 2023
4

4.1 + If someone were to stop me randomly on the street and ask, "What's an album that Pitchfork would've called 'Best New Music' in the 2010's?", this might be the first record that comes to mind. Such a perfect encapsulation of a certain "Pitchfork-core" sound of that era - breezy electro-pop with plenty of 1980's synth throwbacks. Standouts: "Under the Tide", "Recover."

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Mon Jul 03 2023
2

The pretentious spelling of the band's name immediately pisses me off. See runtime is over an hour, crack my knuckles. Two points knocked off and the music hasn't even begun. The music isn't terrible, and at its best sounds a little like Robyn, just without the magic. Synths are usually urgent, the songs have velocity and the album is dynamic both within the tracks and their sequencing. Were this half its length, I could call this consistent, but as it is over an hour it is samey. My ear lobes were curling up with boredom by the halfway mark. 2.

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Thu Aug 03 2023
2

Perfectly serviceable, perfectly dull synth pop with a retro edge to it. Perhaps I'm getting a little too long in tooth and jaw, but the wide-eyed sweetness of the vocals and the video game crispness of the music fail to charm. Where's the human, beating heart to this whole endeavour?

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Sun Apr 23 2023
5

This is an album I knew a lot of songs from already, thanks to the copious airtime this received when it came out. I think at the time I got a bit bored of just how much it was played, but it's been nearly 10 years now so I can appreciate this again, as well as acquire a palate that really enjoys indie electronica. With all that being said, I loved this album. Sitting down and hearing this properly, I thought it was excellent. The lyricism was wonderful and Mayberry has such an energy and charisma to her vocals. Overall it's absolutely dripping with 80s Synth-Pop flair, but it still manages to stay varied enough to not grow stale by the end of the 67-minute long record. Really tempted to get this on vinyl... I took early 2010s pop and electronica for granted - this is so much better than any of the endless TikTok crap that Radio 1 plays these days... Favourite: Recover

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Fri Jun 30 2023
2

i remember these being all the rage when they were out but i never got involved. It sounds like some sort of Taylor Swift prototype, a precursor of the misery to come.

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Thu Aug 10 2023
2

Quite a painful listen after artists like Michael Jackson and Fleetwood Mac. The chord progressions were simplistic, there was no harmony, just bland synths and lyrics. This nearly fell into a 1 but I did like the Scottish accents coming through, and one of the songs was Ok (can’t remember which one). Overall this made me really question the list. This just feels like such an arbitrary choice, probably added shortly after it came out. I’d say at least 10 years should pass before an album can be considered for the list, looking back on this album now you can see it for what it is, soulless synth pop, or as the Scots say “a load a’ shite”.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
4

Somewhere in my shoegazey, guitar-driven hard-rock heart I have a big soft spot for indie electronica, and I’m pretty sure it’s this album that started me down that path. When this LP dropped in 2014, it was the first melody-driven, well-executed electronic music I’d heard that didn’t revolve around massive drops or progressive builds. Mayberry’s featherlight yet strong vocals on top of some great synth choices and big, booming rhythms is a great play of light against heavy, light against dark. The use of space is exceptional - not a single track goes by without feeling huge and anthemic due to the airtight production and heavy use of reverb, but the group still manages to make tracks feel small and intimate (‘Gun’ is a great example of this). To this day the album feels fresh, alive, and new thanks to the strong songwriting and use of texture that makes every line, beat, and word resonate hugely in a wall of vibrant sound. It’s unfortunate that the band hasn’t been able to innovate their sound with much success in the following decade, but with an opening statement this strong, unique, and fully-formed, I have no problem if the group continues to stay in their lane and make excellent indietronica.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

I've been listening to Chvrches on shuffle for so long that I forgot which songs were on which albums. I've always liked them ever since I first heard them, and seeing them live was amazing. It's also really cool that they have an album on this list now. This album came out in 2013 and it cannot be overstated how fucking abysmal mainstream pop/rock was at this time. Every single song sounded the same with a buildup to a drop and a chorus that was just a bunch of mmms and ohs. Calvin harris type bullshit was taking over. Chvrches does buildups and drops on here but they are so natural and produced so well. Everything has a deep sound to it. The vocals are unique too in the sense that there are regular male and female singing vocals but also a ton of mouth sounds mixed into the song itself, it's pretty insane how much of each song is just singing digitized and harmonized. It's cool and gives them their iconic sound. Science/visions is their best song and it slaps hard as hell. Very unique sound and structure to it. Their 2nd album is just as good. Score: 90 Art: 80

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Mon Jun 05 2023
5

Now this is the type of synth pop that absolutely tickles me. This had me jamming the whole time. I'll definitely be diving into their discography!

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Wed Jun 21 2023
5

The Chvrches magic remains just as potent as ever, something evading attempts to summarize. I didn't expect weeping this time but did, for the time, for the intervening decade, for being picked up in each and every song by some element. I cases, the saving moment arrives late, and the enduring consistency is even confusing. Irreplicable; irreplaceable.

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Fri May 03 2024
3

Feels like I could either patronizingly skewer this or praise it. The childlike/simple vocals (a great review has it being a mix between Lorde and KidzBop) have this almost childlike quality which isn't necessarily devoid of emotion but approaches it. Yet that vocal clarity kind of cuts through the synths perfectly. And wow...the synths...: everywhere and everything. Almost right away the sequencers seem a bit much. On every track. I guess that's the entire point of the album/band. But.... still the melody is pretty damn infectious on every track. Maybe it's not necessarily a dichotomy that the sound is so lightweight AND each song carries a strong melody. My biggest *want* would be that I keep thinking that on at least some of these songs changing up the instrumentation to add some organic elements like guitars - both electric and acoustic - could really have pushed this to another level. Still - what they do, they do pretty damn well here. Not sure I can listen to the entire album as a whole again but I can't dismiss it either. 7/10 3 stars.

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Fri May 03 2024
3

Synth pop in general and CHVRCHES in particular are fine, but nothing here grabbed me. I don’t regret listening but I also don’t see me putting this album on any time soon. I wonder if their popularity says more about when it came out than anything else

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Mon May 15 2023
2

This shit spiked in popularity about 10-15 years ago in "big indie" circles. Very beige, very predictable, catchy without huge hooks. Would suit one of those triple j festivals where bands from 500 different genres (not metal) tell the crowd they have a "great vibe" - groovin' the moo, byron bluesfest, falls, etc. Would ruin my acid trip for sure. I was gonna give it a 3/5 because it isn't *that* bad, just not my thing. But oh Christ, this shit only has one setting and it SUCKS. Every song sounds identical, none of it remotely interesting. Still 3 songs to go and time has slowed to a crawl. Update: it got no better. After writing this, I googled "chvrches falls festival" just to see, and they're playing it this year. First result. ha ha, fucking picked it. Fuck off and die, hipster shit. 2/5.

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Fri Aug 04 2023
5

An excellent album. It came out when so many bands were doing the retro-synth thing, and for most it was just an affectation. On this album CHVRCHES built songs that would stand out regardless of the instrumentation.

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Fri Sep 08 2023
5

I actually loved this album - it just makes you feel alive and it's so full of energy. Great, unique, pseudo-futuristic sound. 9/10.

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Thu Oct 12 2023
5

Album #42 If you like synth-pop, you should love this album. If you don't like synth-pop....what's wrong with you?!? CHVRCHES have been on my radar for about 10 years and I just hadn't gotten around to listening to anything other than an occasional single. After listening to this album, I'm planning on going through their discography. This was the kind of music that I felt all throughout myself and I didn't want it to end. 5*

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

Lauren Mayberry has such a cute posh Scottish accent. This album is definitely a modern classic in both Scottish music and synth pop.

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Sun Oct 29 2023
5

Good album I enjoy the chvrches style of music. I'd heard the song The Mother We Share before and already loved it so I enjoyed hearing the rest of the songs from the same album.

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Mon May 22 2023
3

This must have been influential on Jack Antonoff’s synth heavy production style making it therefore influential on Taylor Swift, Lorde, and others. The actual album was fine though no track truly stood out to me.

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Sun Nov 05 2023
1

I feel it's unfair for me to rate this. It's absolutely not the type of music I like listening to. I really hated having to listen to this.

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Wed Nov 08 2023
1

Not sure if I don't like Indie Music or just am grated by this woman's voice.

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Wed Nov 15 2023
1

Someone teach the kids how to use compression, yikes.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
5

Still great 10 years later. Wasn't just a phase I was going thru

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Thu May 11 2023
5

Some genuinely beautiful and uplifting synth pop. Brings back a huge flood of Laneway 2014 memories alongside Haim, Lorde, Run the Jewels and the Jezabels. Bonus points for little hint of Scottish lilt you hear every now and then.

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Sun May 14 2023
5

Kojima's favorite album. I'm very familiar with this band, what a great debut! It's a must listen if you're a fan of pop/synth music. I love hearing a mix of Lauren and the boy's vocals. My favorite song is Night Sky, but it's full of bangers.

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Sat Jun 03 2023
5

Love the band and love the album.

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Mon Jun 12 2023
5

love it :) blast from the past

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Tue Jun 27 2023
5

I bloody love Chvrches. Love this album.

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Mon Jul 10 2023
5

One of my favorites from this list so far I think… this indie electro pop sound is kinda what made me fall in love with music in general. Makes me feel like I’m 14-15 shuffling my iPod library.

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Wed Aug 30 2023
5

Great album. “Lungs” and “Night Sky” are my highlights

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Fri Oct 06 2023
5

Science/Visions is best track from this, Lungs and Recover close. But I can't understand how they choose You Caught The Light to be closing track - that's a big no no for me. Great album and Screen Violence (2021) is even better.

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Thu Oct 12 2023
5

Fantastic stvff, trvly, always a great band. 5 stars.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

A grungier synthpop than Abba, but I can hear the 70s and especially 80s influence. Feels like music I should roller-skate to, which is a compliment. At the VERY least it breaks down the front door of my willpower and demands dancing.

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Fri Oct 27 2023
5

These synths were fucking inspirational.

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Sun Nov 05 2023
5

I didn't personally expect to enjoy synth-pop as much as I did with this album

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Tue Nov 07 2023
5

Absolutely loved this album!! Very 80s synth sounding with good drum beats and vocals are unique 👌

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Wed Dec 06 2023
5

Yassss! I love this. One of my fave running albums. Thank you 1001 albums

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Thu Dec 28 2023
5

This was a masterpiece when it came out! Still sounds good!

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Thu Jan 11 2024
5

After hearing The Mother We Share in 2012, this was one of my most anticipated albums of 2013. I love this album so much. 5/5

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Tue Jan 23 2024
5

Love this band and album. Hard to believe it's one 10 years old.

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Fri Jan 26 2024
5

Topp 3 favorittband, og kanskje deres beste plate. Easy 5/5

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

A hypnotic and stunning synthpop jaunt from start to finish. I listened to this album on repeat for months when it first came out and was so happy to revisit it today and have it hold up. I also love seeing how much fun Chvrches have touring and engaging with their fans - it’s a refreshingly positive approach.

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

Very fun album, was not expecting Recover to be on this because I only knew it from their EP

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

I just like this album a lot. it's not my favorite of theirs so it's really like a 4.5 but I can't put that so (screen violence is just better because laura sings everything, sorry)

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Wed Jan 31 2024
5

This was fun synthpop! I especially liked “Tether”. It had so many cool levels and was so high energy! I could definitely see myself listening to more by CHVRCHES.

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Thu Feb 01 2024
5

What a delight! I’ve always liked the singles I’ve heard from this band, but truthfully, I would have never got around to listening to this album if not for this project! This was just my type of thing! I can’t even figure out what my favorite track off the album is, I loved them all! Perfect electro-pop, I wish I could be slightly drunk in 2014 dancing to these tracks at the club!

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

damn, there are a lot of haters in the comments here. this album bangs and only really dips in quality when you get to the bonus tracks at the end. the mother we share is an absolute banger (and the only one i knew ahead of time, this time from the Harmonix game Dropmix) and the energy and vibes carry through the next six or so songs easily (which were apparently all released as singles? wild). more of this please!! favorites: tracks 1-8, you caught the light

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Thu Feb 08 2024
5

so enjoyable. great addition to the 1001 albums list!

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Sun Feb 11 2024
5

Ну что ж, я люблю электронику. Ребёнок нулевых, не умеющий ценить текст вечных песен и звучание вечных инструментов, могущий лишь кайфовать от музыкальной синтезированной синтезатором наркоты. Lies, Night Sky, Science/Visions особенно хороши.

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Mon Feb 12 2024
5

Ethereal and beautiful, plus a Scottish bonus point - makes a surprising (to me) five stars!

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Sun Apr 07 2024
5

oh wow I'm tempted to give this a 5 its so good synths are amazing and that voice!

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Thu Apr 11 2024
5

Aight I need to apologize to Mason for all the crap I gave him about electronic music back in middle/high school. I thoroughly enjoyed this here album. I loved the lyrics, they did a good job of telling stories. I felt that the sounds were different on each song so the whole album didn't sound monotone. I also very much liked that they had different vocalists (granted it was only for two songs but still that's more than most bands). Very nice album.

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Tue Apr 16 2024
5

This is an essential part of my college soundtrack! Jammed to this so many times walking between classes. This just hits that synth-pop itch for me, so it's an easy 5/5.

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Wed May 29 2024
5

First 5 stars!! And the easiest one to give. Big fan of CHVRCHES and whilst I’d say this is probably my lower ranked of their albums, it’s still an amazing record. So many good songs on it - Lungs is one of my faves ever. I think people either love them or hate them, or are possibly indifferent to them. For me, it’s love. They’re also one of the best live bands I’ve ever seen - if you’ve seen them at the Barras in Glasgow, you’ll know.

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Thu May 30 2024
5

Synth Pop at its greatest... Love it, need to listen to more...

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Sun Jun 09 2024
5

While this isn't my favorite CHVRCHES album, I am ecstatic they are on the list. Killer band.

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Fri Jun 14 2024
5

I heard The Mother We Share on a Pandora station I had and was instantly hooked. I bought the album, slid the CD in my car’s player, and it didn’t leave for the better part of 2 years. I’m most in love with the electronic elements, especially the synths. Iain and Martin are geniuses IMHO. They layer synth lines with guitar effects and vocal loops into a modern symphony. Even more so, the particular passages of the album that are the most satisfying use emptiness, sparsity, the negative space, to build to volcanic eruptions of joy. For instance, the first 2:40 of Tether feel laid back, dripping with anticipation until the fist pumping synth line punches through. Or the end of the 1st chorus of Under The Tide that builds only to go straight into the second verse while the 2nd chorus builds and builds into a jump inducing resolution. The juxtaposition, the unresolved 1st chorus, makes the 2nd that much more emphatic. The live show Chvrches puts on is great. My favorite song live from this album is Science/Visions. It’s got the pedal to the metal from the jump. I must say if they would vary the set list show by show, I might go on tour with them permanently. Lauren’s brilliance shines through lyrically as well. On Lies she evicerates a former romantic interest to a pop soundtrack. She asserts her power after putting up with his shit for too long. I finally figured you out…don’t fuck with me. And on Lungs, which is a track I appreciate more and more as time goes on, the pacing and phrasing of her delivery about another deceptive relationship is something special. To Iain, Lauren, and Martin, my deepest gratitude for sharing your gifts. This is my favorite album of all time. 🙌 ❤️ 🙇🏻

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Fri Jun 14 2024
5

I have a hard time explaining why CHVRCHΞS is one of my favorite bands. Synth pop isn’t typically my thing. High twee vocals aren’t typically my thing. And yet, I love their sound. Love their style. Love Lauren Mayberry’s vocals. Somehow it just all fits together perfectly. I think while their music is very synth-driven, labeling them synth pop just doesn’t quite capture their sound. Iain Cook and Martin Doherty crafted a sound for CHVRCHΞS that is like everything else and yet like nothing else. And this makes sense, as the artists the group cites as their heroes and influences cover a broad and fascinating range. Over the years, CHVRCHΞS has solidified themselves as one of the bands that I will immediately seek out new music from, go to see them live any time they come through town, and extol their brilliance to anyone who will listen. They’ve been pretty successful since “Bones of What You Believe,” but they are one of those bands that I remain mystified that they aren’t even bigger than they are. I shouldn’t be surprised though. Only rap and pop acts are ubiquitous and culturally pervasive. And Mayberry is a writer and singer not afraid to speak truth to music industry power. Mayberry and CHVRCHΞS are never going to be a band that does whatever the label execs and marketing people tell them to do to make money. They have fought sexism and misogyny in the way the band is represented in the media, pushed by record executives, and in their response to the anonymous online harassment that pervades internet culture. They portray themselves as a band despite encouragement to put Mayberry not just in front but alone to appeal more to the male gaze. On their debut, they wanted to write and produce their own stuff, not deceptively front for a faceless producer like so many pop acts. And while they have loosened up a bit on some of those points through their career, Mayberry’s lyrics still question the cost of stardom and bite back at those who have suggested that she soften her accent or put more emphasis on her looks.

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Sun Feb 11 2024
5

I loved this when it came out and it's still a banger. I listened to this album on repeat.

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Thu Jun 27 2024
5

Thoroughly enjoyed this album - good variety, great beats!

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Tue Jul 02 2024
5

I've been listening to this one since it came out. Probably still my favorite of their records. Lauren Mayberry is great on this. I'm not a big fan of the two songs where she's not the lead singer.

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Thu Jul 04 2024
5

10/10 When I first heard Chvrches I had frisson from beginning to end. I can't explain the sense of future nostalgia I feel get when listening. They have better albums than this, and that is saying a whole bunch. 7-3-2024

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Tue Jul 16 2024
5

Great debut album. A fresh sound with a delightful voice from Lauren Mayberry. The song writing is good and the melodies are catchy. Really enjoyed this disc. The Mother We Share and Science/Visions are the standout tracks. Worth another listen.

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Tue Apr 18 2023
4

Very pleasant, sounded like disclosure inspo

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Thu Apr 20 2023
4

My first experience with CHVRCHES was their most recent (or recentish, since I believe they have a new one coming out), checking it out on a whim and being blown away. Yet I checked out very little of their other stuff. This is pretty good, but it feels like practice for later highs. I can see how this would blow pop fans away at the time though, and I love how the last song interlopes The Cure’s “Plainsong”. Soon, Lauren (who really is a gifted singer) will get to duet with Robert Smith. B

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Thu Apr 20 2023
4

This is the one CHVRCHES album I like. And like it I do. 4/5

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Fri Apr 21 2023
4

I like the general sound of it and the edginess of the lyrics. I don't know if this is so but it seems like the kind of music that would play over the end credits of a tv show popular with millennials (not an insult).

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Fri Apr 21 2023
4

This one was totally new to me and I thought it was enjoyable. It didn't always connect, but overall it made a positive impression.

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Fri Apr 21 2023
4

Being a big fan of 1980s synth pop as well as some more modern incarnations such as Icona Pop, I had high expectations for this album. The first listen through didn't meet those. However, listening again made me realize that I might really love this one, given a few more listens. I quite enjoyed it and would like to get to that point.

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Fri Apr 21 2023
4

Electronic pop with high prodution values. It flows very nicely and even has two songs that I quite liked - Recover and Night Sky. But this album hasn't any really bad songs. The production quality is very high, too. This is what modern pop sould sound like (instead of 95% of tracks currently in the pop charts, but that is another story). 3.5/5

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Mon Apr 24 2023
4

Interesting album. A tad bit generic for it's age, but not in a bad way. I enjoyed it as a background music.

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Tue May 02 2023
4

CHVRCHES is one of those bands that my husband always asks me why I don't listen to, since they sound like other stuff I'm into. This was my first time giving them a real chance. It reminded a lot of Lights and maybe even a little bit of Taylor Swift, on certain tracks. I liked it overall on my first listen and plan to listen again. It wasn't love at first listen but I think it would grow on me more.

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Wed May 03 2023
4

I really like this album and band.

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Wed May 03 2023
4

This was a fun way to start the day.

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