CHVRCHES ‘Screen Violence’ Review
Screen Violence – CHVRCHES
Drew’s Ranking: 3/5
A fizzing synth-pop album filled with sonic warmth. CHVRCHES builds a neat, slick package of nostalgic jams that call to other influences and artists. Without completely stripping away the band’s originality.
From the first ten seconds of the introduction track “Asking For A Friend”, the atmosphere settles in and the chilling production takes hold of the album’s direction. Spiraling into a deep train of thought about life, death, and betrayal. Frontwoman Lauren Mayberry’s voice carries the track into a darker place than where it began. Beyond that, “He Said She Said”, (the lead single for Screen Violence) is a more simplistic construction of a track with some highlights throughout yet overall remains overshadowed by the album’s more fascinating numbers in terms of production and quality. The album’s direction is not rediscovered until “Violent Delights”, a stellar song with meaningful lyrics that evoke deep emotion.
What Ties it Together
What ties the universe of Screen Violence together, however, is track number five, “How Not To Drown”, which could be considered as the apex of the project. Joined by The Cure’s renowned Robert Smith for additional lead vocals, this number contains the most conceptual content and intricate songwriting that exists within the entirety of the record. Mayberry’s vocal performance here is beautifully raw and matched by the haunting production and lyricism of the song. Otherwise, “California”, “Lullabies”, and “Final Girl” are feel-good tunes with catchy hooks, and that’s merely all they’re accomplishing. (Which is perfectly acceptable.)
The band’s crutch within these parts of the album is that they create anthems that sound all too familiar, yet still get you on your feet to dance around and have an enjoyable time. “Good Girls”, another high point on the record, feels almost out of place as the track brings the listener to a happier place and closer to a quintessential CHVRCHES song, yet the lyrics about fearing the world and the complex disparity and dangers that women face in their everyday lives makes this more of an emotional track and fitting for the world of Screen Violence.
Unfortunately, the album closes with “Nightmares” and “Better If You Don’t”, which are more unremarkable numbers. They showcase a valid imperfection in the universe. The songs remain good, yet are overcast by incredibly dynamic pinnacles and highlights that define the record as a whole.
Overall, Screen Violence is the type of record that you would hear on a Tuesday night watching VHS tapes in the basement of your childhood friend’s house. It’s an enjoyable experience that becomes an easy listen once understanding what the universe means. The songs presented here can be derivative at times. Yet they remain unmatched by the stellar production, songwriting, and vocal performance throughout the album.
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