Sound — 10
Chvrches is a Scottish synthpop trio that utilizes the strong talent of all of its comprising members. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry's voice really cuts deep not just on darker tracks like "Science/Visions," but also more upbeat ones such as "Gun." This, coupled with the synth work of Iain Cook and Martin Doherty, creates an album with very diverse yet still somewhat similar song styles.
The complementary synergy between the vocals and instruments stands out throughout the album. Neither role completely dominates the other, yet the album allows moments for each to showcase their parts. This is surprising given the heavy layering of sounds on the synth side. One key facet of this cooperation between voice and instrument is the way the layers build throughout the songs, in a sort of crescendo. A good example of this is "Night Sky." The songs are never rushed, and like a good novel, rise with grace, climax fiercely, and resolve definitively. Overall, the sound is certainly one of its own, while not being a completely out-of-touch mess.
The mixing and mastering is done splendidly. The aforementioned layering of sounds can only be described because of the expert care taken in the album's production. A good pair of headphones is preferred for listening, as the group did a phenomenal job in this regard.
Lyrics — 9
The album really shines in the aspect of lyrics and the delivery of them. A beautiful example is the track "Gun." At first listen it's a very enjoyable, catchy synthpop tune, but upon listening to the lyrics, one feels a bit of a divide in the music. "Bittersweet" is a good term for this. Mayberry's voice is a higher-pitched more bright sounding one, but the lyrical content which she writes is so much more heavy and provocative. An excerpt taken from "Lies," "Icon of symmetry, swallowing sides / Fall down in front of me, follow my eyes." The lyrics and music work very well together as mentioned before. The ups and downs of the songs flow well due to interaction from both sides, never starting or ending too abruptly. Mayberry's skills as a vocalist can truly traverse both ends of the emotional spectrum, making the album as a whole fresh and never stale with the same sound over and over.
Overall Impression — 9
"The Bones of What You Believe" is certainly not an album to draw comparisons to, as it's one of the freshest takes on the synthpop genre in quite a while. Chvrches is most definitely a band to look out for in future releases if this album is any showcase of what the group can offer. Highlights of the album would be "Gun," "Night Sky," and "The Mother We Share." All combine the vocals with strong synth arrangements in a very complementary fashion. Although, I will say that the entire album is definitely worth a listen, as each song offers a different view into Chvrches' style overall. I can really find no noticeable problems with this album. I refrained from all 10's because a debut album may be great, but a band needs to establish itself with a follow-up in order to solidify its ability and not just have a "happy accident."