Jan 13, 2016 Music
This article was first published in the January issue of Metro.
Chvrches are one of those bands that seemed to arrive fully formed, as if formulated in a laboratory. Their first songs, posted casually on blogs, were gleaming, expansive, synth-pop anthems just waiting to climb the charts and close festival main stages.
A pop band for the digital age, Chvrches’ music is relentlessly efficient, every moment carefully designed to loop endlessly in your skull, to make you want to sing, to make you want to dance.
This pop potency is combined with unassailable optimism, ambition and empowerment. “We will take the best parts of ourselves and make them gold,” Lauren Mayberry sings on their new album, Every Open Eye.
Chvrches do just that. Even when they explore difficult relationships, the outcome is positivity and strength. Listening to them for a sustained time presses your shoulders back and quickens your step. It’s little wonder the band went from blog darlings to cult-inducing stardom in mere months.
Listening to Chvches for a sustained time presses your shoulders back and quickens your step.
But unlike many bands on a whirlwind ascent, Chvrches have actively forgone opportunities they felt would compromise their autonomy.
“We realised pretty early on that to retain control of what we do and present our music and ourselves the way we wanted to, we had to forge our own path,” says synth- and sampler-playing Iain Cook. “We don’t fit comfortably into the standard modern pop-act mould, whatever that is.”
An unexpected part of forging their own path was Mayberry becoming a prominent voice against the abuse many women experience on the internet. She re-posts the tweets and comments of her abusers, drawing media attention to an everyday behaviour largely ignored as the price of online visibility.
“The lead singer is usually the focus for media and public attention and it kind of goes with the job,” says Cook, “but I think she is incredibly strong and brave for confronting the ignorance and hatred online rather than just ignoring it and hoping that it will go away.
“By doing it this way, she has been able to encourage many young women and men to speak up against things like this in their daily lives. That’s a really great thing.”
St. Jerome’s Laneway Festival
When: February 1.
Where: Silo Park.
Tickets: $149.50 (R18).
Get in position early for: Synth-pop masters Chvrches; electronic duo Hermitude; electropop wonder Grimes; Vince Staples’ raw, laidback rap; Las Vegas newcomer Shamir. Smart strumming Courtney Barnett, a highlight last year, is a late addition to the bill.
Say see ya to the silos: Born in a Melbourne backstreet, the festival has a sense of discovery both in its location and line-up. After a tense wait, it got the go-ahead for one last staging in the great city-to-sea location, Silo Park.