The past 18 months’ covid-induced disruption has put a spotlight on, and indeed deepened, our reliance on technology. We feel naked without our phones, enjoy multi-player games from the comfort of our home, and can command a precarious underclass to bring us food or household items with a whole range of convenient apps. It is in this context that Chvrches release their fourth album, with ruminations on our digital age backed by sleek electronic textures.
He Said She Said is the perfect single, featuring heavy distorted bass and a good old-fashioned ‘pop drop’, while Violent Delights rides a rough breakbeat that wouldn’t be out of place on a Special Request record. A lot of Screen Violence’s dynamism comes from lead vocalist Lauren Mayberry, whose delivery rests on the brink of euphoria no matter what she’s singing – the hook on Lullabies (“paralysed and spinning backwards / lullabies don’t comfort me / televise the great disaster / we’re better off inside of a screen”) is enough to turn a Luddite to a transhumanist with its ecstatic peaks.
It feels as if the artistic well of ’80s nostalgia should be running dry by now but Final Girl wears it well, a moody, muscular groove accompanying an intriguing horror-movie metaphor. Good Girls plays on a similar sense of defiance, but what really sticks out here is the epic sound design with luscious bass, Eastenders tom-toms and irrepressible, fizzing chords. The record is also bookended by a couple of housey tunes, with Asking For A Friend’s glitched-out synth solo an album highlight.
Chvrches are in a comfy place at the minute: their sound isn’t all that new or exciting anymore, but it’s still as enjoyable as ever, with more anthemic lyrics and shiny synths than you can shake a memory stick at.