Chvrches – Screen Violence
After teasing us with promises of a retro-infused record inspired by the works of classic horror directors, CHVRCHES have finally released their fourth studio album Screen Violence. Though the band’s overall career arguably places them in firmly the ‘Synthpop’ category rather than anywhere near the Retrowave
After teasing us with promises of a retro-infused record inspired by the works of classic horror directors, CHVRCHES have finally released their fourth studio album Screen Violence.
Though the band’s overall career arguably places them in firmly the ‘Synthpop’ category rather than anywhere near the Retrowave label, the album’s distinctly retrowave tagline will most definitely will have caught the attention of some of you retroheads out there
Glaswegian Synthpop trio CHVRCHES made a landmark debut in 2013 with The Bones with what you Believe, a catchy synthpop album that earned them a safe place amongst indie pop fans and Pitchfork festival lineups. Though not recognized as such at the time, the band’s harnessing of old-school synth sounds and irresistibly catchy songs could very well be likened to the standard upon which most Retrowave artists strive to live up to today. Vocalist Lauren Mayberry’s youthful singing voice was perhaps just as crucial to the band’s success in the burgeoning retrowave scene as their love for Moog synths. Singles like ‘Recover’ and ‘The Mother we Share’ showed Lauren’s ability to add a strong sense of nostalgia and innocence to the compositions through her youthful vocal timbre.
The band followed up on the success of their first album three years later with Every Open Eye, a sophomore album that served up an equally effective amount of ear-catching hooks and sweet songs, albeit with a more modern flavor. The band also contributed to a track for a Drive tribute album with a fantastic single titled ‘Get Away’ which was later tagged onto their second album as a bonus track. From their third album onwards, the band’s success seemed to have washed away most of their indie and retro roots in favor of a full on EDM-infused pop album that would make Taylor Swift’s 1989 sound like a Mountain Goats record in comparison.
For this fourth album, the band (no doubt nudged by the success of albums such as Future Nostalgia or The Weeknd’s retro-horror album After Hours) have decided to take few steps back to reconnect with their retro roots. So does the album hold any interest to a confirmed retrowave fanatic?
Tone-wise, the album’s sound doesn’t steer anywhere near the dark tone the title, visuals and themes hinted at. Screen Violence is essentially CHVRCHES as you know them. The band’s twinking sounds and melancholic melodies are still the main force carrying the songs.
A few glimpses of old retro sounds occasionally emerge but are quickly smoothened by the album’s distinctly modern, cinematic production. The album’s main single ‘How Not To Drown’ adds a touch of aggression with some roomy drums and guitar riffs, though Robert Smith’s guest spot does little to pull the band out of their comfort zone.
Nonetheless, the album does offer a good handful of tracks through which the band’s long-standing love for eighties powerballads shine through. ‘Good Girls’ and ‘Final Girl’ are essentially a modernized eighties pop anthem with an updated production, whereas the albums.
Overall, Screen Violence is a record that will please longtime fans of the band but won’t do much to sway any listeners in the CHVRCHES camp.
CHVRCHES ‘Screen Violence’ is out now on all streaming platforms