“Lies” is the stormy haze of synth-pop that circulated around the fringes of the Web before it was ultimately picked up by the BBC. The left-of-center offbeat sound of the Knife and the youthfulness of Grimes or Charli XCX are present in the song, but Chvrches’ effortless lightness allows the sound to distinguish itself from other glittery pop. The band briefly remained anonymous with the release of its first single, but that mystery was short lived. And now that the curtain’s been drawn back, there stands the Scottish trio and now a divine debut EP, titled Recover.
The three-song, plus two remixes, EP is Chvrches’ first Stateside release (via Glassnote, who has also been successful with outfits like Mumford And Sons and Phoenix). The production might have a glassy sheen, but raging waters churn below the surface in the lyrics of love and hope, sung by petite frontwoman Lauren Mayberry, who carries a master’s degree in journalism, and a law degree to boot. Her words are in earnest (“If I recover/Will you be my comfort?”) and delivered with sparkling longing.
The band only formed in 2011, but there are years of experience in the group. Iain Cook played guitar in Matador/Chemikal Underground emo-art-punk ensemble Aereogramme, and Martin Doherty was a touring drummer with the noisy Twilight Sad. Mayberry was also in a band when she met Cook and Doherty, and the trio’s past experiences may explain how it manages to exercise a seasoned talent for both variety and control, even in a three-and-a-half-minute song: “Recover”‘s flawlessly timed breakdown and rising swell (around 2:40) gives the track the extra oomph that pushes it from earworm territory into the realm of live-show emotion, seen in the unapologetic rock stage presence often occupied by Karen O.
The short EP doesn’t leave much room for error. Mayberry passes the lead to Doherty on “ZVVL” (Zuul?!), which is less outright pop than the titular song, but regains it on “Now Is Not The Time.” With the track’s somber but cheerful “oh-oh oh-oh” chorus, it’s as if the hopeful lover of “Recover” has found satisfaction in a partner.
The two “Recover” remixes, by Austria’s Cid Rim and U.K.-based Curxes, are filler. They’re pleasant on their own, but neither can hold up to the original, which, to Chvrches’ credit, has already included the ideal balance of mechanized claps, beats and restrained production.