Chvrches has yet to make a misstep. The Scottish trio built some buzz in 2012 by releasing tracks online, followed up with a solid EP that spring, then capitalized on its momentum with one 2013’s best albums. From there it toured relentlessly—364 shows in two years, according to its press materials—while frontwoman Lauren Mayberry made waves speaking out against online harassment of female artists. Everything has gone right so far for Chvrches, which is great for the group, but also raises expectations for what it does next.
Everything continues to go right for Chvrches on Every Open Eye, released almost two years to the day after its debut, The Bones Of What You Believe. The trio—rounded out by multi-instrumentalists Iain Cook and Martin Doherty—returned to its home studio in south Glasgow to make Every Open Eye, the same place it made Bones, and just like on that album, Chvrches self-produced the new one. As helpful as it can be to have a disinterested third party to serve as coach, bullshit detector, and referee, it can be a hindrance for a band that has a singular sense of purpose, as Chvrches possesses on Every Open Eye.
At 11 songs in 43 minutes, nothing lingers too long, and nothing sags. The sequencing paces the hooks nicely: The first four songs alternate heavy-hitters, with the solid opener “Never Ending Circles” setting up the hooky “Leave A Trace,” then into the brisk “Keep You On My Side,” which segues into the hook-laden “Make Them Gold.” “Clearest Blue” picks up the pace before downshifting a bit into “High Enough To Carry You Over” (sung by Doherty), then moves into the triumphant “Empty Threat.” The slower, more somber “Down Side Of Me” gives way to the defiant “Playing Dead,” which could be addressing the harassment Mayberry spoke of last year: “If I give more than enough ground, will you claim it? / I will take it all in one breath and hold it down / And if I try to pretend that I don’t hear it / You can tell me to move and I won’t go / You can tell me to try and I won’t go.” Then again, so could the similarly assertive “Bury It,” which follows: “We will bury it and rise above / Bury it and rise above you.” Like “You Caught The Light” on Bones, Every Open Eye closes on a moody, reflective note with “Afterglow,” a prototypical album-closer anchored by dreamy, twinkling synths and Mayberry in torch-singer mode. The album ends with her repeating simply, “I’ve given up all I can.”
All of Chvrches might as well be saying that, because Every Open Eye reflects the effort that went into it. The record feels like the kind a band releases just before it takes off. If Every Open Eyes turns out to be Chvrches’ breakthrough album, no one should be surprised.