March 12: despite the silly name, the Scottish synth-pop combo came, saw and conquered at LA venue The Echo.
By Wyndham Lewis
Bands rarely arrive fully formed; there are almost inevitably growing pains that stem from youth or inexperience. We adopt these acts and watch them grow up, it’s the bedrock of indie fandom, the ability to say “I saw greatness in their amateurism” or “I recognized the diamond in the rough.” Chvrches robs indie fans of that core pleasure by suffering neither from youth nor inexperience. Chvrches arrives as a fully shone diamond.
The three members of the Glasgow, Scotland synth-pop Iain Cook, Martin Doherty and Lauren Mayberry are all veterans of other bands and whatever experience that provided shows in the immediate confidence they exhibit in their songwriting, recording and on-stage presence.
Mayberry, a pixyish Emily Mortimer look-alike fronts the band with her Harriet Wheeler (Sundays) meets Bjork vocals and wonderfully literate lyrics. Iain Cook and Martin Doherty look slightly interchangeable with twin receding hairlines, 3-week beards and Scottish tans. Both men stand behind keyboard rigs, Cook with a bass that he plays while he manipulates the various pre-recorded vocal and percussion loops. Both also sing more backing vocals than would be imagined listening to these songs on their various releases, adding muscle behind Mayberry’s lead, boosting her already strong vocals.
Chvrches is the rare band that is blessed with the problem of demand overrunning supply. They burst out of the gate with last year’s single Lies which sounded so radio ready, that it couldn’t possibly have been the sum total of their output. It was. Since then they have cranked out the EP Recovery, which includes the current XMU favorite The Mother We Share. Every song they have released in their 15 months as a band sounds like a single. And the crowd at the Echo was the beneficiary of that excellence.
It’s inevitable a short set when you’ve only completed about 8 songs together as a band. But, to a person, everyone in the crowd is dying to hear what’s next. Chvrches covered all of its output to date, Lies, Recovery and show closer/crowd favorite The Mother We Share. The band also previewed a few tracks that will be featured on their upcoming full length, including one on which Martin Doherty sings a capable lead maneuvering the band squarely into the New Order zone.
Given the relatively dark lyrics the music and performance were as sunny as Glasgow isn’t and the members of Chvrches are that rare UK electronic band that looks like it might actually be enjoying its inevitable rise.
[Photo Credit: Devon Kirkpatrick]