by Jack Reid

Chvrches’ new EP Recover emerges from a wave of hype generated by their track ‘The Mother We Share’, that earned them a Top 5 spot on the BBC’s ‘Sound of 2013’. The group is a three-piece from Glasgow that produces tightly produced throwback synthpop. Their first full release comprises three original tracks and a remix of the eponymous track ‘Recover’ from Cid Rim.

The track opens up with its namesake, which blasts out immediately with the chirpy collaboration of unashamedly eighties synth arpeggios, and the painfully catchy vocals of Lauren Mayberry. The lyrics are clichéd with a seemingly self-aware intensity. There is a satisfyingly shallow aspect to the predictably emotional story of a tryst told over throbbing bass stabs and melodramatic chords. All the while the production remains joyfully crisp; CHVRCHES’ synthesized snares will always ring out wonderfully clearly.

‘ZVVL’, suitably stylized, is an almost anthemic track that seems to constantly build to nowhere… in a good way. Iain Cook takes over lead vocals and delivers an understated sigh of a performance that builds a suspenseful darkness through the track. A bridge follows the chorus (itself more of a crescendo than a new movement in the song) that suddenly adopts a harsh breakbeat that wants to become something angry and intense. Instead, the song falls back into the aching buildup to nowhere. The track is a healthy departure from the saccharine pop, tonally and structurally. ‘ZVVL’ refuses to follow the same verse, chorus, breakdown, verse, chorus structure that we begin to expect from the trio, and in doing so jolts a little into a more serious mode.

‘Now Is Not The Time’ is a return to Lauren’s candy vocals and an incredibly successful synthpop formula. From the first second or two of the track, you can tell what you’re in for: the lovesick chords, the obnoxious eighties snare and clinically treated female vocal. The bass that climbs in rigid arpeggios in combination with Lauren’s vocal is clearly evocative of Kavinsky’s ‘Nightcall’, the song that rode the retro aesthetic of the movie ‘Drive’ into indie hearts. That is not to condemn CHVRCHES for being derivative; the track simply doesn’t do anything new, and unfortunately it doesn’t rise above as the best of its kind.

The remix certainly does something worthy with the track. Its production maintains a preciseness that suits the band’s aesthetic. The sound design built around the single arpeggio that morphs a bongo into a harp and back again, takes the foreground in the track perfectly. This centerpieces an immaculately made electronica remix of the track, without losing its catchiness.

The EP is a successful exhibition of the group’s range and potential in their trendy niche of pop. It shows off what they’re really good at, gorgeously retro synthpop with a modern twist.