Review: Chvrches’ “Every Open Eye”

 

Cover art for Every Open Eye

Cover art for Every Open Eye

As a brief confession, this review was in work in progress for four days before the date of this publication. Normally, I can crank out a review within maybe a day, depending on how long it takes me to listen to the album a few times.

Why did this one take so long, then? The answer is simple: because it took me that long to figure out how I felt about the album. This album was hotly anticipated by me since its announcement — CHVRCHES’ 2013 debut The Bones of What You Believe is unofficially one of my favorite albums of all time, with its catchy 80s-esque synth hooks, a lead singer who is a near-perfect fit for the overall sound, and the at times stunning lyricism that gives everything an emotional punch (see: “Strong Hand,” “Under the Tide,” and “Lungs.”)

I really wanted to love this album, but I found, disappointedly, that I only like it.

Compared to their debut, Every Open Eye at its best is definitely a much more confident and polished album. Where the debut felt like a product of the 1980s, this one edges into a decidedly more 90s feel. The result is bolder and prouder, though if it is better is a question I’m still debating.

The album starts out strong; “Never Ending Circles” and “Leave a Trace” bring to mind the thrill of The Bones of What You Believe and are among the best songs on the album. “Playing Dead” is a mid-album highlight. No song on here is bad, per se (though “High Enough to Carry You Over” is my personal least favorite). But there’s just a sense that they can all be so much better.

Every Open Eye, while certainly not a bad album by any means, feels let down by the anticipation that it will reach the heights of its predecessor. It’s not The Bones of What You Believe, Part 2, and it doesn’t need to be. It holds enough great moments to stand on its own, to be the same CHVRCHES we all came to love two years ago while adding enough new flair to show evolution as artists.