The Bones of What You Believe Image

Generally favorable reviews - based on 39 Critics What's this?

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Universal acclaim- based on 122 Ratings

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  • Summary: This is the debut full-length studio release for the Scottish synth-pop trio.
  • Record Label: Glass Note
  • Genre(s): Pop/Rock, Alternative/Indie Rock, Alternative Pop/Rock, Punk/New Wave, Synth Pop
  • More Details and Credits »
Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 32 out of 39
  2. Negative: 0 out of 39
  1. Sep 24, 2013
    She, Doherty, and multi-instrumentalist Iain Cook have crafted one of the year’s best albums, which means that buzz won’t be dying down any time soon.
  2. Sep 12, 2013
    Even more devastation stems fro Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's sophisticated and catchy layers of synthesizers and vocal loops. [Oct 2013, p.82]
  3. 83
    CHVRCHES have constructed a debut record that will not lose its luster with each successive spin, and proven that they have the substance to remain aloft as their cosmic kin come crashing down to Earth.
  4. Sep 18, 2013
    There’s no denying that the band has released a fully coherent statement.
  5. 75
    While their debut doesn't always maintain those kinds of highs [as singles Recover or Lies], it still provides plenty of charmingly straightforward indie-disco pleasures. [4 Oct 2013, p.64]
  6. Sep 24, 2013
    The songs here are cohesive but never awkwardly uniform.
  7. Sep 27, 2013
    It’s merely average, one likely to fade into memory once the buzz dies down and the fire goes out.

See all 39 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 14 out of 16
  2. Negative: 1 out of 16
  1. Sep 26, 2013
    This is really one of the most accessible albums I've heard this year. You really can't fault well-crafted pop albums for sticking to the genre; I find it a complete buzzkill to speculate on the possible future when they've released one album. Every song on this is a pretty perfectly crafted pop song, in the best sense. Expand
  2. Sep 26, 2013
    Hands down album of the year, an absolute blast from start to finish, Lauren Mayberry's vocals are absolutely perfect and the instrumentation supports it to a tee. My only real problem with the album is that they play it safe for certain, but I can let that go due to the fact that it's their first album and I'm sure there is experimentation left to come. Expand
  3. Feb 4, 2014
    It's mock 80's synthpop. For everyone else, even hinting at the aforementioned while recommending it to a friend is enough to make up their decision to avoid it at all costs. Especially after mentioning their name: CHVRCHES, spelled with the Roman numeral "v" in order to make internet searches more convenient -- and because it sounded "cool". But don't throw hipster accusations just yet until you've heard one, two, or maybe even fourteen of their tunes, because for once in a long, long while (since Robyn's 2010 Body Talk or even Lady Gaga's Born This Way perhaps), we've received an electronic pop record that's filler-less, despite primarily using the same synthesizer in every track. Each deliver their own unique sound that evokes electronic euphoria through the ears of anyone who craves it, it's addictive. Lauren Mayberry's light vocals are crafted by Iain Cook and Martin Doherty's memorable, stunning synths that makes melancholy pop Katy Perry or Lady Gaga wish they could have created themselves. That's actually where Bones of What You Believe succeeds: it's unusually well-balanced. The lead single, "The Mother We Share", might be disguised in indie flavored electronica, but the stuttering hook ("Go-oo-oa-oh") suggests it's just your typical top 40 breakthrough that just happens to be smarter than the thirty-nine others. "Lies" has an Ellie Goulding-meets-Florence + the Machine verse that transitions into a musically melodramatic chorus that'll have you singing before you even know the words. Even one of the members get a starring role, taking over lead vocals in "Under the Tide". "Guns" and "Recover" are melodic masterpieces as well, contradicting themselves with their positive vibe, yet Crystal Castles-esque melodrama. As said, do not underestimate an album just because it's in another decade, as long as it emulates that era marvelously. Expand
  4. Nov 3, 2013
    The singles that circulated blogs everywhere, “Lies”, “Gun”, “Recover” and “The Mother We Share” represent a lot of what Chvrches has to offer. The synth parts are very well-arranged, whether they're used as punchy staccato chord riffs or vocal splicing to make some catchy hooks (mainly found in those singles) or as something to overlay a song to effectively set a mood, most notably in deep cuts like “Tether”, “Under the Tide” & “Science/Visions”. (“Science/Visions” in particular is worth singling out because of its synth line that to me almost sounds like something out of an old racing video game.) It's a near-perfect stylistic fit for Lauren Mayberry's light, airy & sweet voice, which can at times seamlessly blend into the instrumentation. It's made more interesting by contrasting with the bitter & emotionally negative lyrics found in a good majority of the album. There are also 2 songs sung by one of the 2 male members of the group, Martin Doherty (“Under the Tide” & “You Caught the Light”) that close each “side” of the album in a way that I imagine would add a lot if you're listening to it on vinyl. Most people cite the songs sung by Doherty as the album's weak points, but I have to disagree with that. Does his voice work as perfectly with the music as Mayberry's? Not quite. But he's got a good voice, the songs to me are just as well-written as the rest of the album (though easily 2 of its slower moments along with “Tether”), and it adds a bit of variety just when you're about to worry that the songs will start to bleed together. There are also tracks like “Night Sky” and “Science/Visions”, which are practically duets between the 2 vocalists (even if Mayberry is definitely more present). I'm curious to see what it'd be like if they explored that dynamic a bit more in the future.

    Any real issue I have with the album is in the lyrics. Not that they're necessarily bad by any means, but more that they tend to get monotonous from track to track. It seems like every song here is talking about the end of a relationship, an oft-covered but perfectly valid area to write about. My gripe in this department is that rather than tackling a lot of different emotions & stages of the breakup throughout, making each song fresh & worthwhile, it all bleeds together by staying in the same place, expressing the same ideas for most of the album & subsequent becoming a tired & stale theme by the end of the full listen. Sure there are exceptions, like the sibling-related symbolism in “The Mother We Share”, the engagingly conflicting emotions in “Tether” or the more uplifting message in “Under the Tide”, but by the time I finished the full listen while reading along with the lyrics, I was left a bit tired & annoyed. It's fine to have that bitter emotion on a few tracks or even half of an album, but when it covers practically the whole thing it can get insufferable and a bit whiny.

    But as much of an overarching issue as this is, at the end of the day it's a relatively minor one, especially if you just put these songs in shuffle instead of listening all the way through. It's still a pretty impressive debut album by a very promising up & coming band.

    Top 5 tracks: The Mother We Share, Gun, Night Sky, Science/Visions, Tether
    Score: 80/100
  5. Aug 13, 2014
    The Bones of What You Believe is as synth pop a record as your ever going to find and is close to the front of the pack when it comes to the recent revival in that genre. The album is consistently good but I would say it lacks real standout tracks. The production of the record can at times amaze but just as frequently overwhelms the source material. There are points where you are just getting sonically attacked from all angles and the song gets lost underneath. The band could also have trimmed the record by 2 or 3 songs. Essentially what you have is pure pop but this is a record well worth getting hold of and giving adequate time to. Expand
  6. Sep 29, 2013
    The entire album seems to be influenced by the sound of 80s pop, which is a great thing. I just wished that the rest of the tracks are as fantastic as Gun, undeniably the best one on the album, and one of the best that i listened to in quite some time. Really breathtaking. Also, The Mother We Share, We Sink and By The Throat are great tracks. Expand
  7. Nov 25, 2013
    This is chvrches' repetitive electronic "song" has been an an advertisement at the beginning of youtube videos for months and then it was on the radio and I cant stand for this bull****. The singer girl does have a great voice and its sad she spends her talent singing with guys pressing synth buttons. Expand

See all 16 User Reviews

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