Glasgow trio Chvrches continue to develop their unique sound in synth-pop through their fourth studio album Screen Violence, released on 27th August through EMI Records in the UK.
Exploring a much darker and bleak tone, “Screen Violence” edges away from the positive-minded pop tunes that Chvrches are often associated with – instead delving into concepts like nightmares and sleep paralysis on track “Nightmares”. The opening track “Asking For A Friend”, begins with isolated synthesisers, perfectly introducing the album that beholds everything you’d expect from a synth-pop LP. The first song of the album acts as self reflection, pointing out one’s own flaws and accepting that regret isn’t worth wasting too much time over as we need to move on from the past and focus on what’s infront of us.
Lead singer Lauren Mayberry expresses emotions of struggling emotionally on the album’s second song and lead single “He Said She Said”, with repetition of the lyric “I feel like I’m losing my mind” in what feels like a cry for help. “California” provides juxtaposition to an outsider’s perception of the US state, conveying the message that there is much more to California than the gleeful weather, bright lights and lush celebrity lifestyle.
“No one ever warns you, you’ll die in California”
The album’s second single “How Not To Drown”, released on June 2nd is a collaboration with Robert Smith of The Cure, proving to be one of the LP’s strongest tracks. Smith’s instantly recognisable presence feels completely natural, complimenting the haunting and dark element to some of the themes explored across the album, most through the atmospheric synth sounds. Later in June, Chvrches released a Robert Smith remix of the single, further exploring some of the ideas presented in the original single such as background guitar licks and a change in structure due to the extra two minutes added in Smith’s reworked version.
Screen Violence’s penultimate track “Nightmares”, features a slow and atmospheric build-up before climaxing to a punchy chorus – a formula proven to be successful for the Chvrches sound. Similar to the first single, “Nightmares” explores quite a dark lyrical theme, expressing the overall nature of the album and perhaps the emotional state of the band during 2020’s lockdown where the bulk of writing was accomplished. “Better If You Don’t”, presents an intriguing down-tuned guitar and bass riff accompanied by an underlying acoustic guitar and an electronic drum beat solidifying the track together, acting as a smooth easy listening way to conclude Screen Violence.
The pop trio’s fourth studio album as a whole is more of a continuation of Chvrches recognisable synth-pop sound rather than a change of direction, which the album does excellently, proving to be a hit to fans of the band and the genre altogether. Alongside the album, the Glasgow-born outfit has announced a North American tour lasting from November to December later this year.