Having recently bemoaned the fact that “too many bands end up throwing away the thing people liked about them in the first place,” it should come as little shock that the second album from Scottish electro-pop trio CHVRCHES, Every Open Eye, doesn’t exactly deviate wildly from their first.
Indeed, the 80s-inspired wave of celestial synths and booming echo-laden beats that defined 2013’s The Bones of What You Believe is still the default setting here, but it’s a formula that thankfully still produces inspired results.
Opening statement of independence “Never Ending Circles,” the middle-finger mic-drop of lead single “Leave A Trace” and the punchy Giorgio Moroder-esque “Keep You on My Side” may well just be the most confident start to an album this year.
The happy sad banger “Cleanest Blue,” which appears to morph into Depeche Mode’s “Just Can’t Get Enough” halfway through, and the rom-com euphoria of “Make Them Gold” are just as effervescent, while “Playing Dead” (“There are no silver linings in anything you say”) prove that few can do sweetly-sung melodies mixed with withering disdain better than Lauren Mayberry.
You can perhaps understand CHVRCHES’ reluctance to stray from their comfort zone, as Every Open Eye is far less captivating when they do. Performed by Martin Doherty, “High Enough to Carry You Over” is the kind of inoffensive but unremarkable low-key fare which only highlights how valuable Mayberry is to their success, while beatless closer “Afterglow” is a disappointingly flat way to close such an otherwise vibrant affair.
By offering more of the same, Every Open Eye is unlikely to convert anyone who has somehow remained immune to CHVRCHES’ charms, but those already on board will find more than enough to compensate for its lack of surprise.