Every Open Eye is the third project from the Scottish Synth-pop group CHVRCHES and aims to capitalize on the hype surrounding their 2012 debut album Bones of What You Believe.
I have been following CHVRCHES ever since I heard their single “Mother We Share” in 2012. What struck me about CHVRCHES was the mystery behind them. Nobody really knew much about them, as they had only released two singles– “Mother We Share” and “Lies” – and they weren’t really well-publicized either. That mystery led to a hunger for more of their unique, experimental synth driven pop and the vitality of lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s vocals. CHVRCHES were (and are) a lovable trio who made music that was experimental yet still familiar and friendly to the ear.
Every Open Eye comes at a time when the mystery surrounding CHVRCHES is steadily eroding after countless concerts and interviews. From that shroud of mystery a very clear direction and sound has emerged. On the new album, CHVRCHES seems to distill their earlier work into the exciting power ballads that are their most recognizable song type. No longer are there indulgent songs like “Science and Visions” on Bones of What you Believe. Instead, Every Open Eye contains mainly the type of songs that got CHVRCHES famous – songs like “Gun”, “Lies”, and “Mother We Share” become “Clearest Blue” and “Keep You On My Side” and “Down Side of Me”. There’s even one song featuring Martin on vocals per each album, both similar in their cadence and subject matter – a sort of pleading male lover after some sort of tragedy.
This formulaic quality is both a pro and a con of the album. On one hand, each song kind of sounds like an idea that CHVRCHES has handled before. I could probably draw a rough parallel from each song on the new album to one on the old one and it wouldn’t be that outlandish. On the other hand, the songs are still lively and exciting and they pop in a way that is infectious and incredible live. The lyrics are poignant and emotional, sometimes hopelessly romantic and often defiant (reflecting Lauren Mayberry’s personality). I still would like to maybe see more from CHVRCHES though. I’d like to see them evolve and to create a new and different sound that is separate from their formula.
Every Open Eye is incredible for what it seems to aim for – infectious pop ballads and driving synths – yet it also seems to fall flat in the realm of musical evolution for a band that is on the front lines of a synth pop revolution. I love the album and any fan of CHVRCHES will certainly love it too – after all, it is everything that caused us to love them in the first place.
Favorites: “High Enough to Carry You Over,” “Clearest Blue,” “Afterglow”