Notes: Chvrches @ Troubadour, June 1, 2013


Glasgow’s Chvrches are pulling off something, quickly carving out a unique voice using familiar sounds in a crowded female-fronted synth pop genre, selling out shows despite only a handful of officially released tracks. The latest of which, “Gun”, was Zane Lowe’s “Hottest Record in the World” last week, if you’re the sort of person that is in to that sort of thing.


Fundamentally it’s 80’s-influenced synthpop (warm pads, pulsing basses, canned 808 beats, candied vocals) worked out by two bearded gents (Iain Cook, Martin Doherty) and singer Lauren Mayberry, whose huge piercing voice belies her wee appearance and unaffected stage demeanor. Taken together, the three of them somehow they add up to more than the sum of their parts. There’s some clever songwriting going on beneath the surface and often an underlying yearning in the singing that draws you in (and a bit of mania in the lyrics). In the wrong hands, this stuff can easily be cloying cliché but their tight control and good taste keep it from veering off.


It’s a well honed compact set, 13 songs, the bulk of which are not yet released, presumably making up the forthcoming full length record, bookended by cheeky Prince references (taking the stage to a detuned sample of the opening speech from “Let’s Go Crazy”; an encore cover of his “I Would Die for U”. Or “I Would Die for V”, I guess). The guys do that hunched over bob-to-the-beat thing while they work the beats and synths (taking vocals on a couple of tracks) while Lauren sings her heart out, her take on the single “Recover” in particular pulling at hearts. LA crowds can be an easy lay, especially when they know the show they’re attending is hot but Chvrches earned the praise at the Troubadour. They’ll probably be playing a much larger room next time they’re through town.


Photos © oliver walker from FYF Facebook