Music has always been and always will be progressive. Through every big movement there is some form of growth, and that growth sprouts from pushing boundaries beyond what one would think is possible. Yet growth and progression is not limited to change. It can be internal. Humans have a distinct desire to change the game and to create something new, if only to make our world greater. A message is all that it needs.
CHVRCHES' sophomore album is a good example of this internal change. Even before it was released, the album has sparked controversy already (see: Lauren Mayberry’s speaking out again misogyny). The trio of electronica masters have burst forward with a brand new album, showing their growth since their debut while still maintaining their core principles as artists.
Admittedly, after initially listening to the three singles the band released (’Never Ending Circles’, ‘Leaving A Trace’, and ‘Clearest Blue’), I was somewhat put off by what I was to expect from this album. They were undoubtedly CHVRCHES songs, but they seemed to missing something that was present in The Bones Of What You Believe. It did not become apparent just what was missing until the songs were put into the context of the album. They lacked a story telling element. While there was never a clear narrative in Bones, everything added up. It made a statement that, when isolated to a single piece of music, may be unclear, but there still exists a sense of what the end result may be. While that is somewhat absent from Every Open Eye, it does not necessarily detract from it. Rather, it gives CHVRCHES a chance to work on specific meanings rather than summing up ideas as a whole. Even then, that statement is not entirely true - Every Open Eye does have some core concepts.
One of the more cleverly disguised secrets mixed into this album is the change of sound. It is a secret in that the album is definitively a CHVRCHES album, yet it starkly contrasts its predecessor. Bones had a dark vibe to it, almost to an otherwordly level. Even the cheeriest songs on Bones had something dark hidden within it (’Gun’ and ‘The Mother We Share’ come to mind). Every Eye Open is somewhat more straightforward, in that sense. Not every track has something dark behind it.
Differences do not end at the feeling of the album. There is an austere progression in their sonic landscapes as well. While Bones felt reminiscent and new all at the same time, Every Open Eye feels very familiar... yet still new. Perhaps the most similar song to their debut record is ‘Keep You On My Side’ - it could have come straight from the demo sessions of the album, if not for its slightly stronger EDM influence! The influences are definitely stronger on this one, though. ‘Down Side Of Me’ is almost CHVRCHES’s take on a Naked & Famous song. ‘High Enough To Carry You’ sounds like it came straight out of the 80′s (or straight out of a YouTube troll video, à la Rick Astley). On the subject of this song, this is one of the most interesting tracks on the album. Martin Doherty takes the reigns for lead vocals on this track, and absolutely takes it over! Hopefully they emphasize his voice more on future records, as well. ‘Bury It’ is the poppiest song on the record, with a huge metallic background and an absolutely massive chorus. ‘Afterglow’, the final track on the album, is perhaps one of the band’s most beautiful tracks. It finds power in minimalism and simplicity, featuring nothing but a building, huge atmosphere and Lauren Mayberry’s enchanting vocals. It almost feels like it took inspiration from Muse, who’s latest album Drones ended with the track of the same name, which was nothing more than a layered a cappella (and a single synth note to conclude it), in a similar fashion to how Mayberry takes this track mostly solo. It was without a doubt the best way - and possibly the only way - to end this album with a substantial conclusion.
Every Open Eye is a testament to progression. It represents how CHVRCHES have mastered their craft and can still find ways to expand upon it. It also is a statement on how humans desire change, too. One individual can make a huge difference in the world, but not unless the world can watch. Change occurs when every eye is open, and appeals to every open eye. Progress makes us human. Evolution makes us living. And CHVRCHES make us feel alive.
Favorite Tracks: Afterglow, High Enough To Carry You, Bury It
Least Favorite Tracks: Leave A Trace, Clearest Blue
Overall Rating: 8.5/10