Despite predictions that guitar bands will come back into fashion this year, undoubtedly those representing the electro scene turned out to be the most exciting nominees on the prestigious BBC Sound of 2013 long-list. Post-R&B duo AlunaGeorge, Toronto producer The Weeknd and Los Angeles rapper Angel Haze had already made at least a minor mark over the past 12 months, so inevitably, it was little-known Scottish trio CHVRCHES that provided the most intrigue.
Iain Cook, formerly the guitarist in post-rock groups Aerogramme and The Unwinding Hours, and Martin Doherty, a regular touring keyboardist with post-punk revivalists The Twilight Sad, first met at Strathclyde University in 2004, but only joined forces seven years later when they also recruited lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry, a Rachel Leigh Cook lookalike and former freelance journalist who had previously fronted indie-pop outfit Blue Sky Archives.
Changing the spelling of their moniker to CHVRCHES in a bid to avoid “competing with Jesus for Internet hits,” the three-piece started collaborating on material inspired by artists as eclectic as Robyn, Lil Wayne and Laurie Anderson using the rather scientific method of a Google spreadsheet.
This slightly calculated approach to song-writing might not be considered rock n’ roll, but judging from the smattering of tracks available online, it’s one which has reaped its rewards. Despite its bitter riposte to a sibling (“the mother we share will never keep our cold hearts from thawing”), “The Mother We Share” is a strangely euphoric fusion of echoed vocal loops and slow-motion beats which recalls the likes of M83, The Knife and Purity Ring. Meanwhile, the stunning “Lies” borrows the emphatic rhythm from Billy Squier’s much-sampled “The Big Beat” and fuses it with gothic synths reminiscent of Gary Numan and his Tubeway Army.
Elsewhere, the outfit’s shimmering nu-synth cover version of Prince’s “I Would Die 4 U” showcases Mayberry’s enchanting Glaswegian-accented tones in all their glory, whilst the ethereal electro-pop of “We Sink In” and the Bjork-meets-Giorgio Moroder vibes of “Science & Vision,” both of which were recorded specifically for a BBC Radio 1 session, further whet the appetite for a full-length CHRVCHES studio effort expected later this year.
(PHOTO CREDIT: Alan Fettes/Wikimedia)