Chvrches is a three-piece synth-rock band from Glasgow, Scotland. They create atmospheric synth pop songs with soaring vocals. Though their newest album is titled Love Is Dead, Chvrches aren’t paralyzed or depressed as they evaluate a contemporary society that lacks love and empathy. They eagerly paint a picture of a future where empathetic love could possibly thrive again.
Lead singer Lauren Mayberry starts the album and the song “Graffiti” by asking: “Did you achieve all you wanted to do?” and goes on to explore the youthful passion and love that can fade as we get older. Her direct approach continues in the next song “Get Out,” which explores a failed relationship in a fresh way, admitting there were many facets to the relationship and that even if the intent was good they still have to take responsibility for their actions. As the chorus proclaims, “Good intentions, never good enough.”
Other songs on the album also explore relationships, including “My Enemy,” a duet that features Matt Berninger from The National. They use the male/female dynamic masterfully as they explore conflict in romantic relationships. Despite the subdued beginning and heavy topic, the airiness in Mayberry’s voice still offers a dose of hope throughout.
Mayberry speaks directly of spirituality gone wrong. In the song “Deliverance,” she warns those who have strong religious convictions that their actions could be causing harm that they don’t realize. She asks listeners to live out their beliefs with a humbleness that allows for the possibility of change. “God’s Plan,” the only song featuring Martin Doherty on vocals, also explores the darker side of spirituality as it explores an obsessed lover using the name of God and the idea of a divine master plan for romantic love to get what he wants.
“Miracle” is the most poignant track of the album. Mayberry sings an anthem of relentlessly pursuing hope in a time of societal despair. This song is seeking so much more than a romantic relationship as
Where does all the good go?
We're looking for answers in the highest of highs.
But will we ever, ever know?
And I need you to know I'm not asking for a miracle
But if love is enough, could you let it show?
When many would have given up hope, Mayberry continues the search, explaining: “We're looking for light inside an ocean of night” and “We're looking for angels in the darkest of skies.” Christians can relate as we continue to find hope in a loving God who has a grand redemption story in motion despite the “ocean of night” or “darkest of skies” we may feel and see.
Popular culture often responds to the challenges of this world by preaching that everything will be all right if we are just true to ourselves. Mayberry doesn’t believe this lie. She ends Love Is Dead with the song “Wonderland,” a sober reminder that nobody lives forever and that eventually a reality outside of each of us will become clear. She asks the listener to approach the present situation with a combination of hope and grounded realism. The final words are: “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.”
The members of Chvrches don’t identify as Christians, but they aren’t afraid to explore spiritual themes and difficult questions. Love Is Dead is a great pop album, good for those who are just looking for enjoyable music, but offering substance for listeners who want to dig a little deeper into life’s challenges. (Glassnote)