Every artist encounters an identity crisis at some point. CHVRCHES have encountered that problem while recording their new album, but rather than blindly searching for a way to counteract it, they've embraced it. CHVRCHES mature in their honest new album Love Is Dead, brining their honest emotions to the surface with a newfound rawness.
CHVRCHES' music has always been a very interpretive experience. A lot of the lyrics and meanings are shrouded by metaphors, but in Love Is Dead, they stray away from that for something more direct. Love Is Dead is a heartbreak record of sorts, and many songs revolve around that idea. Opening track 'Graffiti' brings the record to start but optimistic start, its warm instrumental backing Lauren Mayberry's somber cries of "I've been waiting for my whole life to grow old / And now we never will, never will," which recall a young love that was never meant to be. Following that is lead single 'Get Out,' its anthemic synths and atmosphere backing calls which ask "Can we get out, get out / Get, get, get out / Get, get, get out of here?" 'Get Out' does add a bit of that CHVRCHES metaphor with its bridge, where Mayberry chants "You are a kaleidoscope."
While the lyrics may seem more simple and the songs more anthemic, they do deliver a dark message. Love Is Dead is actually a very melancholy record, where CHVRCHES face the reality of moving on from the past. 'My Enemy,' featuring The National's Matt Berninger, sees a relationship falling apart from both sides, each party being very honest with their real feelings about the problems they have. 'Forever' is even sadder, perhaps an aftermath of 'My Enemy,' where Mayberry solemnly regrets splitting from someone in a relationship, painfully admitting "But I always regret the night I told you I would hate you 'til forever." 'Really Gone' somberly recounts this even further, before closing track 'Wonderland' accepts what is in the past is done and confidently looks forward.
While the messages behind CHVRCHES's new music are all connected, the music is quite diverse and different for one them. One striking difference is the presence of live instrumentation such as drums and guitar. 'Graves' is dominated by big drums and crunchy guitars that underlie Mayberry's big vocals. The simply epic atmosphere of 'Never Say Die' is made that much more huge with the presence of these, as well, as well as Mayberry's cavernous vocals. 'Miracle' builds of an anthemic atmosphere as well, but CHVRCHES rely on different ideas throughout the record, such as the old-school 70's progressive piano in interlude 'ii.' It's the vocals that often carry the songs, though, such as the huge delivery in 'Heaven/Hell' and Martin Doherty's reverberating vocals that echo away above the alarming arpeggios of 'God's Plan.' The messages may fall under a specific nature, but the record is definitely diverse.
CHVRCHES mature in their honest new album Love Is Dead, facing their changing lives and relationships with brutal simplicity. The feelings expressed in the record are not trying to hide behind metaphor and complexity, but rather they flow as a form of stream of consciousness. What makes it so strong overall is the fact that you can connect to it as it comes to you, and not only will it revive some of these painful ideas, but it'll resolve them all the same. It's a breakup album set out to heal by telling nothing but the truth.
Favorite Tracks: Never Say Die, Forever, Deliverance, My Enemy
Least Favorite Track: Really Gone
Rating: 96 / 100
Stream or buy Love Is Dead on Apple Music, and follow our 2018 Playlist on Spotify: