In 2013, the Scottish electro-pop band CHVRCHES released their debut album The Bones of What You Believe, and their popularity kind of exploded. They continue riding the wave of success with Every Open Eye, and this album is every bit as infectiously catchy as its predecessor. The 80s-like synths make their triumphant return, but the lyrics feel a bit less personal and more vague than on Bones. This shift makes the album feel more a bit more “accessible” for a general audience, which some fans might take issues with. Even with less introspective lyrics, the overall feel of Every Open Eye is one of confidence and positivity, which is something that all of us could use a bit of in our lives.
Every Open Eye opens up with the aggressively dreamy “Never Ending Circles”. For someone that’s never listened to CHVRCHES, this song is a damn good introduction. As soon as the chorus kicks in, album goes on an upward trek that continues for three straight songs. Track two, “Leave A Trace”, is the first song on the album that’s going to make you listen to it twenty times in a row. Lead singer Lauren Mayberry’s vocal range is put to the test with the chorus of “I know I need / to feel relief” and this is the first instance of that feel-good confidence that exudes from Every Open Eye. “Keep You On My Side” sounds like it came right from 1986, but it only brought the good things about music in 1986 with it. The album hits something of a low point with the next track “Make Them Gold” though that low point isn’t all that low. “Make Them Gold” gets a little repetitive, but the song is bubbly enough to maintain the energy level and keep things rolling.
The album slows down a bit with “High Enough to Carry You Over”, which is sung by instrumentalist Martin Doherty, but it feels more like an opportunity to take a break from dancing than a lull. It also pretty nicely illustrates that CHVRCHES is more than “singer Lauren Mayberry with her backup dudes that play music for her.” When that song ends and “Empty Threat” begins, it’s right back at it with another huge chorus that grabs you and shakes you in all the best ways.
Every Open Eye plays itself out with slightly less intensity than the first half of the album until it reaches the closing track “Afterglow”. It acts as the much-needed cool down after the explosion that was the album until this point. Importantly, the song takes just as many names lyrically as the rest of the album, which helps it close on a strong note.
Every Open Eye is a super solid sophomore effort from an incredibly talented young band. Almost every song has a chorus that makes it feel like it could’ve been a single and sometimes those songs feel like singles even before the chorus takes off. If Cyndi Lauper was an up and coming artist in today’s musical climate, she would be CHVRCHES. Does that make sense? Probably.
Songs to pay special attention to:
“Leave A Trace”
“Never Ending Circles”