After teasing the record with four tantalising singles, CHVRCHES' sophomore record was delivered in a wave of hype. The release of Every Open Eye comes almost exactly two years since their hugely popular first album The Bones Of What You Believe, and based off the response to that record, this one was rightfully expected to catapult the Glaswegian trio even further.
On first listen, Every Open Eye sounds deceptively simple. It would be easy to dismiss this album as being unadventurous and lacking boldness, but if you were to only take that impression from it then you would have missed the entire point of the record. In fact the only influential similarity between the majority of tracks on this album and CHVRCHES past work is that the instrumentation. It is in instead the small intricacies and explorations in structure, and diversity of texture that they have developed since their last record and that exist between the tracks here, that show just how far they have come as a group in terms of diversity.
Lauren Mayberry’s voice is just as spectacular as you would expect, but what’s immediately remarkable is the varying contexts in which it is employed. Afterglow for instance features her vocals in a bold new way and the soft accompanying lines are a new direction for the group; it is fantastically captivating. Conversely, in Never Ending Circles Mayberry’s vocals are multi-tracked against choral ‘Ahhs’ showing just how diverse she can be despite really owning a very particular and unique style (and accent). Martin Doherty also sings on two tracks, High Enough To Carry You Over and bonus track Follow You, the first of which’s synth hook is one of the highlights of the record.
You would almost be forgiven for pointing to the similarities in the way that synth dominates most of the tracks on Every Open Eye as being a sign of lacking diversity, but similarly to the way that vocals are used, it is the context in which the instrumentation occurs which proves quite the opposite. Sure CHVRCHES generally limit their instrumentation to familiar sounding synths and drums, but the trio use these fairly simple aspects to create so many different types of tracks.
There are up-beat bangers like Empty Threat and Make Them Gold, which definitely sound like the CHVRCHES of old, alternating between sections of verse and chorus that end with very predictable melodies and cadences. There are also slower jams that long-time fans will expect and love, some of the best of which include the previously released Never Ending Circles and Leave A Trace, as well as High Enough To Carry You Over.
However, there are also tracks that show a new direction for the trio, specifically Down Side Of Me and Clearest Blue. Down Side Of Me shows off a darker side to CHVRCHES, including both Mayberry and Doherty’s vocals, as well as being set off by a deadly ominous synth hook. Clearest Blue is the ultimate example of an exploration of structure, and whilst the instrumentation is very similar to many other tracks on the record, it is the use of the first two thirds of the track to build up to the climax that makes this track so spectacular. You will not be disappointed by the climax either, which extends to the end of the song and is unworldly catchy, as is most of the album for that matter.
FOUR POINT FIVE OUT OF FIVE