CHVRCHES fight through the existential dread on ‘Screen Violence’


Recommended Tracks:  “California”, “Final Girl”, “Lullabies”
Artists You May Like:  The Naked and Famous, Phantogram, Tegan and Sara

There are days when going outside can be difficult.  Maybe the weather is terrible.  Maybe you run into someone who tests your patience.  It seems safer to stay in and be alone with your thoughts – until your thoughts prove to be just as difficult.  Maybe you fixate on something negative someone said, or you mentally relive a day that was not your best.  Before you know it, you have a collection of memories that are awkward and uncomfortable, but need to be embraced.  It might be overwhelming to deal with it all at first, but doing so proves to be worth it, as synth-pop band CHVRCHES illustrates on their fourth studio album, Screen Violence.

Spending most of last year inside, frontwoman Lauren Mayberry had time to think about life – but, not the good parts that filled her with delight.  Instead, she focused on some of the more frightening aspects, the parts that are better suited for a horror film or a bad dream.  She taps into unrealistic expectations, for instance, on “He Said She Said” and “Good Girls,” describing conflicting situations and defining what it means to be a good (but totally inhuman) person.  Lauren also gets into the heartbreaking reality of living with these standards, exploring how it can get the better of you on “California” and hold you back on “How Not To Drown.”  Listening to these tracks is comparable to watching a scary movie, where you just want to take the main character and bring them to safety.

The music on the album is definitely cinematic as well, not being afraid to get dark and gritty or light and cosmic when needed.  Whether we get a more rock-oriented production, as we do on “Violent Delights” and “Nightmares,” or something softer and romantic like on “Lullabies,” the music never fails to complete the mood or scene.  There are times when it even overstays its welcome, like it does on “Asking for a Friend” or “How Not To Drown,” where it manages to play out long after an ending point would seem appropriate for a track.  Still, it is better for the music to be too much than not enough.

It is clear that Screen Violence is all about doubt and fear and anxiety, but in a way, it still tries to be hopeful and optimistic.  You root for Lauren, hoping that she will be in that “final cut in the final scene” that she describes on “Final Girl,” where she contemplates her future.  You also side with her on the closing track “Better If You Don’t,” as she decides to take charge and stand her ground.  The small bursts of light that come through on the album are fleeting, but you invest in them all the same.

Overall, Screen Violence is a very strong album from CHVRCHES, if not their strongest.  They know what they are doing at this point in their career, and flex their musical and lyrical abilities in each track.  Fans of the band’s signature 80s pop sound will enjoy the album just as much as fans of their heavier, technical stuff, and will find some way to connect with a topic or two that comes up in a song.  Even though Screen Violence focuses on themes that are relevant to this day and age, it is a record that will stand the test of time.

You can listen to Screen Violence on platforms like Apple Music and Spotify.

Keep up with CHVRCHES:  Twitter // Instagram // Facebook // Website

Christine Sloman
Christine Sloman
Writer for Melodic Mag since 2018. Music lover since always.

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