CHVRCHES – Never Say Die

“THIS IS HOW TO DO IT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.”

Tim: If you were hoping for a break from the female-fronted electro pop theme that this week has seemingly developed, I’ve got bad news for you, because here’s the Queen of Scots herself to defend her throne.

Tim: Oh, and boy oh boy can she defend her throne.

Tom: THIS IS HOW TO DO IT, FOR CRYING OUT LOUD.

Tim: Blimey, that’s a reaction.

Tom: Now the question is, am I saying that because I like CHVRCHES’s sound already, or because this is a good track on its own merits? I’d like to think it’s the second, because that synth that leads into the chorus comes out of nowhere, and it doesn’t sound like them, and yet I still went “oh, that’s good”.

Tim: I have very similar views to that: true, it doesn’t sound like their typical track, as it’s a lot bassier than previously, but damn is this good. Normally I hate a fade out ending, as should most sensible people, but I can forgive it slightly when it’s an instrumental fade out and the instrumental is this good. Also, like you, I fully accept that if this weren’t by CHVRCHES but instead by some other band, I might not have this much enthusiasm for it, or be as willing to forgive that, and that by extension I may technically be falling into the trap that the Norwegians fell into when they chose Alexander Rybak to represent them at Eurovision with an atrocious song.

Tom: I still think that’s going to win.

Tim: Ugh, please no. What I might think of the song if it weren’t by CHVRCHES is slightly irrelevant, mind, because this is by CHVRCHES, and I bloody love it, and NOTHING you say will stop me. So there.

CHVRCHES – Get Out

“I am very much hopeful for this.”

Tim: Scotland’s finest purveyors of pop music are BACK, presumably with an upcoming third album, and here’s the track to lead the campaign.

Tom: It took me a while to get into them, but yes: I am very much hopeful for this.

Tim: OOF, what a track that is. It’s a fairly simple hook for the chorus, but boy is it infectious. Infectious, loud, and just great. I’ll admit I don’t really get the kaleidoscope metaphor, but the whole GET OUT GET OUT, GET GET GET OUT, GET GET GET OUT OF HERE doesn’t leave much room for ambiguity.

Tom: I’d normally dislike a chorus that repetitive — I’ve said before that if you’re going to build your entire chorus around one or two lines, then they’d better be absolutely perfect. These are.

Tim: And the song really, really sells it, right from the downbeat opening, all the way through to the slightly hopeful but still fairly definite middle eight.

Tom: I’ll admit to being a bit tired and emotional, in the literal sense, at the moment, so perhaps I’m more easily affected by songs like this, but: THIS IS VERY GOOD.

Tim: The music, as we have come to expect from the band, is right up there with the best, and I’ve listened to this four times in a row now and am perfectly happy to keep doing so.

Tom: And that video is a masterclass in telling multiple, ambiguous, possibly-connected stories: it’s just lovely.

Tim: Top stuff.

CHVRCHES – Call It Off

“There are some absolutely beautiful parts in here.”

Tim: This got sent in anonymously, and might need a bit of back story: ten years ago, Tegan & Sara released The Con, their first album to go big, and now want to celebrate that. As such, they’re putting it out again, but this time with other artists recording the tracks. Lengthy blog post here, example here:

Tim: It’s very, very different from the original, which was less than half the length and a completely different genre. This is…I want to say interesting, but I’m also aware that there’s an argument to be made for dull as well.

Tom: The two aren’t mutually exclusive. There are some absolutely beautiful parts in here: that steady build out of the middle eight into the final section is genuinely uplifting. It’s somewhat out of our remit, really; there’s an argument that this isn’t pop music at all.

Tim: It sounds like it would go on a typical CHVRCHES album, not as a song that would ever be released as a single, but as a nice closing track to round the album off with. For that, I quite like it (not least because it is the closing track on the album). Really don’t get the abrupt ending, though.

CHVRCHES – Bury It (Keys N Krates Remix)

“Eurgh.”

Tom: Our reader, going by the name “RedBassett”, sends in this remix. He describes it as “a very clean blend of the original music and the additions”.

Tim: Eurgh.

Tom: I describe it as “bloody awful”.

Tim: Yeah. I didn’t have a hugely negative reaction at first, but then I realised I hadn’t actually heard the original; I did, and then realised that every single redeeming feature came from that.

Tom: Sorry to our reader, but sometimes I have to call ’em like I hear ’em, and in this case what I hear is (not one of the better) CHVRCHES songs being mangled by what seems like an incompetent automatic remix generator. I handed up doing something I haven’t done to a song in a while: skipping forward a couple of minutes to see if it got any better. It didn’t.

Tim: No – if anything, it’s worse, with those additions at the end just being really rather dull. Bleh.

CHVRCHES – Empty Threat

“Oh, oh, that video is lovely.”

Tim: Weird how chart success works, isn’t it? Take this lot – both albums have gone straight into the top 10, but they’ve only ever had one actual single in the top 40, which got to the stunning heights of 38.

Tom: There are many paths to the charts, now – and Music Fans do still like their albums.

Tim: Anyway, here’s their latest release.

Tom: Oh, oh, that video is lovely. I know I’m a sucker for that sort of bleached-out, retro Americana style of shot, but that’s just a wonderful video.

Tim: And whoever said goths couldn’t hang out and have fun at a water park? This is a really rather enjoyable track, I’d say, and is very much one of the best songs on the album, so God knows why they’ve left it for the fourth single from it – it’s considerably better than any least two of the previous three. It’s got a catchy chorus, it’s got that great sound and production that we love from them, and unlike the lead single we looked at in August, it doesn’t leave me with any sense of dissatisfaction. Very well done, back on form.

Tom: And unusally for one of their singles, I can actually remember some of the melody after listening to it. Yeah, I’ll go with that — if I’m in the mood for something like this, I suspect I wouldn’t find much better.

Tim: Success prediction? Well, it’s been on the Radio 1 playlist for a few weeks now, so maybe it’ll do better – though given that the album’s been out for three months already (got to number 4) and none of the first three tracks individually broke the top 100 singles, I wouldn’t hold your breath.

Tom: But like you said at the start: that’s not always how you measure success these days.

CHVRCHES – Never Ending Circles

“It’s nice to see that they still have it”

Tim: In case you’d forgotten that these guys were Scottish, here’s their new single to remind you.

Tom: Bagpipes? Are there bagpipes?

Tim: Ah. I, er, I feel I may have got your hopes up just a little too high.

Tim: Ain’t it good? Standard fare from them, really, but it’s nice to see that they still have it for their upcoming second album. Though now I write that, it really is just that: standard.

Tom: On a second album, that’s fair: you’d expect a refined, tweaked, but ultimately similar sound. If they’d decided to change it up massively, it’d be interesting to see how the fans would react.

Tim: True, and I’m definitely not asking for massively – it’s just that I’m listening to that, but I might as well be listening to Recover or The Mother We Share or any of their others. That’s not a bad thing, particularly, as they’re good tracks, but maybe I’d like something a bit different from a new album? I don’t know, it’s good, and I’ll take it, but I’d like a bit of variation maybe in the future please THANKS.

Eric Prydz vs CHVRCHES – Tether

“Well, this is going to be good.”

Tom: Eric Prydz, remixer extraordinaire; CHVRCHES, badly-capitalised Scottish electronica. I saw the two names on this, and almost immediately thought “well, this is going to be good”.

Tim: Likewise – YES PLEASE.

Tom: And happily, E-Prydz —

Tim: What.

Tom: I don’t know why I called him that. Anyway, he’s posted three minutes of it to SoundCloud as a preview. Advance warning: this is about 2:30 of build and then it gets cut off just after the drop: adjust your expectations accordingly.

Tim: ​With expectations duly adjusted, that’s a very good 2:30 of build, though I’m not sure it is all build – there’s enough variety in there for it to be a decent track as it is.

Tom: Presumably there’ll be a radio-friendly edit of about three minutes total soon, which I’m Properly Excited for.

Tim: Yes – if this is just the preview elements, I can’t wait to see what the rest of it sounds like – presumably a lot more vocal, for one thing.

Tom: But in summary: that’s two very good acts working together to make something that reflects well on both of them. With Eric Picklez —

Tim: Seriously?

Tom: — at the helm, it was never going to be an astonishingly inventive remix: it was going to be, as I’ve said before, by-the-numbers but with very good numbers. When you’ve got a good formula, sometimes it’s best not to mess with it.

Tim: ​​Tommy Sizzle, you’re not wrong there. Bring on the rest of it.

CHVRCHES – Get Away

“It’s exactly what you’d expect from them, and I mean that in a good way.”

Tim: For no readily apparent reason, Zane Lowe and others at Radio 1 decided to take the film Drive, get rid of all the music from it, and put new tracks on instead.

Tom: If I remember rightly, Drive has an astonishing soundtrack — the idea of “remixing” the film isn’t as strange as it might seem.

Tim: A number of acts got involved, such as Bastille, Eric Prydz, The 1975 and CHVRCHES, who did this.

Tom: All I can hear from that intro is the phrase “Ed, really?” repeated over and over again.

Tim: I’ll be honest, I’ve not seen either version of the film so I’ve no idea how well this worked with it, but it’s a good track to listen to, coming with all the usual CHVRCHES benefits like Lauren’s pleasant Scottish vocals and a warm and tuneful electronic underscoring. It does take a while to get going, as it wasn’t until the chorus I really felt YES, this is a good CHVRCHES track.

Tom: It’s exactly what you’d expect from them, and I mean that in a good way.

Tim: As on Friday, there’s a somewhat unintelligible backing vocal, here after the chorus, but again it works, and combines with everything else to give a very listenable track.

CHVRCHES – Gun

“I first heard it and thought ‘oh’.”

Tim: Unfortunately, Recover got neither the airplay nor the sales it deserved, and charted really rather low. However, Lauren, Iain and Martin are hoping this one will fare somewhat better, and help them live up to their Sound of 2013 shortlisting.

Tom: Thanks for that reminder, Tim. How are the rest of the Sound of 2013 crew doing?

Tim: Ooh, six months on isn’t a bad time to check, I suppose. Not so bad – AlunaGeorge got to number 2 as a featured artist and have been playlisted a few times, Laura Mvula has apparently had a top 10 album (though I’ve not heard of her at all). HAIM have had a couple of top forty tracks and Angel Haze is best known for releasing a couple of ‘diss tracks’ aimed at Azealia Banks.

Tim: This took a while to grow on me – I first heard it and thought ‘oh’.

Tom: Yep, same here. It was more of a “meh”, but the sentiment’s the same. Surprisingly good video, though: taking the 80s aesthetic and using modern tech.

Tim: Not hugely special, not even near the same league as Recover. But I listened a few more times, and it grew on me a bit, and then someone played it at work and I really liked it, although I didn’t know recognise it as this track. Based on that, I reckon it’s a really good song to hear in the background.

Tom: Damning with faint praise there. So it’s, what, elevator music?

Tim: It doesn’t stand up to that much scrutiny, and if you really pay attention to it there’s not a lot to say about it – sure, it’s got the nice twinkly synths and her lovely vocals, but the main problem is that it’s just not what it should be. I know I said last week that we shouldn’t judge tracks based on previous releases, but here it’s unfortunately almost impossible not to. On the other hand, listen to it while you’re concentrating on something else, like I’m doing now writing this, think of it as just another electropop track, and it’s absolutely fine.

Just, nowhere near as good as Recover.

CHVRCHES – Recover

“Basically, it’s lovely.”

Tim: I pre-ordered this debut single about a month ago, probably after hearing it on the radio, and promptly forgot all about it; on Monday I woke up and found it had downloaded, and I listened to it again and remembered why I’d ordered it.

Tim: Basically, it’s lovely. They’re a Glasgow-based band, and (despite not being remotely guitar-based) placed at number 5 on the BBC Sound of 2013 poll. I do hope that this time it’s accurate, I really do, because this really should do well, in a just world.

I don’t really know what’s going on in the video.

Tom: Nope, neither do I – it’s always a brave move not to include the actual band in a video when they’re not well-established.

Tim: True, although I think that might be them in the TV screens at the end. Still obscure, though. But anyway, I don’t watch the video when I’m walking around with headphones on – I listen to the music. And that’s just brilliant.

Tom: I felt almost breathless during some of those verses: there’s an intensity in the pacing of those lyrics, an odd pattern of pauses that don’t fit into traditional “lines” of lyrics.

Tim: Yes, and I reckon that disjointed vocal is a stroke of genius, as it works on two levels – firstly on its own to convey the relationship issues that are being sung about, but also with that synth backing, as it gives it the extra prominence it really deserves.

Tom: I’m not sure I have the same reaction to the music as you: I get restless listening to it, and I’m not sure it’s altogether an enjoyable experience. It is a good track, though.

Tim: This is a fantastically put-together song, and I can only hope for more like it.