This week hot indie news was dire, especially dire for those in love with the Scottish indie pop masters CHVRCHES. Word on the street (and more importantly the web) was that their third studio album Love is Dead was, well, dead. It was awful to some and kind of drab to the rest. Lead vocalist, Lauren Mayberry, responded to the ‘bullshit’ review when speaking to the NME. Stating that attacking a record was in fact attacking her personally, it showed nothing other than the disappointment at it’s reception. Whilst it’s difficult to separate artist and art, as anyone who was forced to read Roland Barthes in university knows, it sometimes is essential. It isn’t an attack on her or the band. In fact, the themes are there; grief, life, love and lust but the spark just isn’t. And in an effort to try to sound as cheesy as possible, that’s just showbiz.
It was at least a stumble for CHVRCHES and at worst a death sentence. After two incredibly strong records, a history beginning in 2011 and multiple promising awards and critics, how could it be that CHVRCHES love suddenly died? It wasn’t just one bad review, it was a consensus and what’s worse there weren’t outstanding terrible reviews but reviews with the overriding ‘meh’. Love Is Dead is a redundant record with very mediocre material on it. Somehow that’s worse, isn’t it? But is this the end of CHVRCHES or are we just used to dramatic clickbait?
The internet, my favourite place in the world, is alive with a plethora of new talents, new vocals, new beats. Just log onto Instagram and you see 100s of people of showcasing new talents. Wherever it’s film, music, art or comedy, it is easier than ever before to show yourself. New music is thankfully everywhere and because of this, if you have a larger platform you need to deliver. CHVRCHES didn’t try something new and fail, they stuck with the old and didn’t change it up. Infact, they retracted a little. The songs individually are full of beat, rhythm but they lack character. Even the pre releases from the record didn’t do anything to excite fans and veterans alike. Never Say Die sounded like very standard 2008 high gloss synthpop pop, it added nothing new to the 100s of bands we all listened to one decade ago. It didn’t add new beats, twists, new emotions, it stuck a sound that has run its natural course by now. Alike, My Enemy, a duet with The National’s Matt Berninger, took the worst parts of indie pop and mashed them together in a lack lustre fashion. They just didn’t entice you to listen to more. They didn’t make you feel like CHVRCHES had control over their sound. Miracle, redeems the sound but it still isn’t strong enough to save a whole record. Even for a band that’s always been attracted to the slicker side of pop this record is an overdosed case of ‘too much of everything’.
CHVRCHES’ love for pop isn’t dead and there is no way this is the end of them. With tour dates spanning all over the globe and well in October of this year, live shows could be the key to gain excitement for this record. Music on a record and music on a stage take on different parallel universes and CHVRCHES could rectify the bad press. Not just that, but die hard fans, whilst disappointed, haven’t taken a huge leap backwards. It’s still half decent indie pop music, it still have beats to dance to and lyrics to lament over. It just needed a spark, something fresh and honest. Maybe there’s no necessity to head straight for the Top 40, after all. I, for one, hope the spark is found on the stage or at the very least with whatever the trio release next.