Thursday, June 7, 2018

Chvrches - Love Is Dead Review

Never discredit the opinions of others when things don't go your way. Lauren Mayberry of Chvrches learned that upon the release of Love Is Dead when not-so pleasant reviews were written at the band's expense. A critic's job is as the name implies; to critique. It is meant to be fair, truthful, and unbiased (or as close as the flawed human can get to that). Mayberry's disgruntled retort revealed her imperfections while, perhaps, illuminating her towards the majority's apathetic response towards Love Is Dead's shameless Pop intonation. She became frustrated, and even if the tantrum was misguided, by all accounts it was genuine and a reflection of the emotional fractiousness spread across Love Is Dead's 13 songs. Candidness withstanding, the base level content of Chvrches' third LP, one that affiliates itself with the mundane teenage melodrama you'd see in the Twilight saga, flounders in SynthPop no man's land.

From the get-go, Chvrches made their aspiration of radio friendly mass appeal apparent. Unlike many other Pop groups who poof into existence thanks to closed door industry dealings, Chvrches sought out the Indie route with their stylish debut The Bones Of What You Believe. In retrospect, 2015's Every Open Eye marked the intersection between art and accessibility, featuring highlights in 'Clearest Blue' and 'Leave A Trace,' but lowlights with 'Down Side Of Me' and 'Playing Dead' that bear resemblance to Love Is Dead's mass production. Every track here (excluding the instrumental interlude 'ii') abides by the self-imposed limitations of Pop. Mayberry never strays from discussing heart-mending or heart-breaking tropes, tripping over elementary lyrics with a passion. Cliches arise at a near-constant clip, beginning with opener 'Graffiti' ("We wrote our names along the bathroom walls / Graffitiing our hearts across the stalls"), continuing with 'Heaven/Hell' ("Is this heaven or is this hell? If none of this is real / Then show me what you feel, cause I can't tell"), and ending with 'Wonderland' (You tell me that we'll be alright, but I don't know if you're right / I can't live forever, with my head and my heart in the clouds"). Mayberry's lyrics read like an adolescent's diary of poems and quotes about a week-old crush.

It would be inaccurate to judge SynthPop solely on the basis of lyrics or content, two categories in which Love Is Dead fails. However, whereas previous Chvrches efforts were upheld by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's multi-fluorescent, and often uproariously catchy synth work, here they're subjected to the confines of compromise. Greg Kurstin, famed producer whose worked with Sia, Beck, Kelly Clarkson, Pink, and Adele to name a few, joined the group as co-producer, and it shows. Every ounce of Mayberry's wailing whine and Chvrches' synth stabs are sent to the maximal output, leaving no room for tactile musicianship or creative ownership. From a reasonable distance, every song sounds the same. Mayberry grounds herself in the verses of 'Never Say Die,' 'Heaven/Hell,' and 'Deliverance,' much like how she shrieks during the hooks of 'Get Out,' 'Forever,' and 'Graves.' Structurally speaking, Love Is Dead might be one of the most generic modern albums conceived, with a litany of boilerplate SynthPop hits that sound like the musical equivalent of stock photography. 

The only bright spots, if you want to call them that, come when invasive hooks like 'Deliverance' or 'Wonderland' wage war with your mind and its insatiable tendency to crave the uncomplicated. Apart from the Doherty-led 'God's Plan,' which benefits from a diverging vocal set, nothing else on Love Is Dead rises above mediocrity. Chvrches' latest affair is an achingly dull and insignificant Pop record that puts complex romantic predicaments into simple, black and white terms.

No comments:

Post a Comment