>> Since their first album five years ago, CHVRCHES has shaped the face of indie electronic music. With “Love is Dead”, they’re taking a bit more inspiration than they give.
CHVRCHES aren’t afraid to step out of their comfort zone on this album. “Love is Dead” is full of experimentation, messing around with different genres and sounds. CHVRCHES used this album to boil down their sound, figure out exactly what makes them distinctive, and play around with everything else. “Love is Dead” is wildly diverse, and it makes for some interesting twists on the classic CHVRCHES formula.
Lauren Mayberry’s vocals, as always, stand out as a high point. Like the rest of the album, though, there’s a twist here. Tracks like “Miracle” and “Forever” have some of the angriest tones ever to come from Lauren. It seems like working Hayley Williams on “Bury It” had an effect because there are some almost Paramore-sounding lines to be found here.
“Love is dead” is the first album CHVRCHES haven’t produced themselves, and it shows. For every two or three songs that come out as interestingly experimental, there’s one that sounds like market-tested pop. Even within a song, the mood can jump from “Wow, this is a neat new direction” to “Wow, this is… just Bastille”.
That shifting mood is probably the biggest downfall of “Love is Dead”. It doesn’t come across as a cohesive album, just a bunch of songs. It’s CHVRCHES throwing new sounds and ideas at the wall, seeing what sticks. It’s a method that leads to some really solid tracks but leaves the album as a whole feeling a bit indecisive.
“Love is Dead” feels like CHVRCHES getting scared of their own shadow. They’ve had enough success that they’re afraid of getting stale, but they’re still enjoying songwriting enough to keep at it. Each track ends up being a toe dipped into a swimming pool, testing the waters to see how fans will respond. It’s a fun album, with a lot of solid songs, but it begs the question of what CHVRCHES will do next. Do they stick with the formula, or do they take a path they’ve tried on “Love is Dead”? Only time and their next album will tell. 3.9/5 <<