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Review: CHVRCHΞS – Love is dead

CHVRCHΞS are a group that probably needs no introduction, but here’s one anyway. Love is Dead is the third album by CHVRCHΞS. The album sees CHVRCHΞS embracing a currently standard pop landscape more than on prior albums. It could be a good decision, but it could also be a bad one. Here’s the review.

Love is Dead has interesting stuff. There is a strong use of atmosphere. However, this is weighed down by a stronger focus on anthems and hooks. Love is Dead sees CHVRCHΞS doing little to step outside of pop boundaries. Whilst not necessarily a bad thing, too many of the songs sound like retreads. Some things are heavily redolent of the eighties. There’s a heavy amount of uninteresting lyrical repetition. Almost anything outside of a chorus seems designed to push toward the chorus. Of course this means that there are big, sweeping and soaring choruses that sound designed to be catchy.

Lyrics about things that could be about romance or other issues sit on electronic sounds. The vocals and the instrumentation is strong. There’s focus and confidence throughout all of Love is Dead. In a sense most of the album sounds romantic and cinematic.

One of the members has implied that there’s deeper meaning in some of the songs on Love is Dead. There may be deeper meaning, but there’s little digging to do. Most of the lyrics sound more superficial than they do of something substantial. Maybe that’s the point. Maybe the lyrics (and by extension, the music) are meant to sound superficial. This certainly works as a defence to criticism. By criticising Love is Dead you miss the point of the album. Love is Dead is actually a work of genius. In not realising this, some people have hoodwinked themselves. Maybe they can’t understand the subtle genius of what CHVRCHΞS have made. It would make a good defence if Love is Dead had something beyond shallow substance.

To be fair, there are some really good songs. “Graffiti” is a fun, strong opener and “God’s Plan” has a subtle undercurrent of menace that helps push it along. “Really Gone” and “ii” step away from the rest of the album and emphasize atmosphere without going overboard. However, these are exceptions.

Love is Dead sounds like there were some attempts to make some deep stuff. Instead of going whole hog, the album sounds like CHVRCHΞS instead decided to reign in anything deep and push for heavily-trodden pop. Plenty of hooks, plenty of flat repetition, plenty of big, grandiose sounds. Too much sounds rote and at the end there’s little to make the album worthwhile. The whole experience is merely okay. Merely okay is not good enough when CHVRCHΞS have displayed that they are capable of much better. However, despite the issues Love is Dead is fun. It has strong performances and does flow well. Despite (or possibly due to) its strong focus on currently standard pop trends, Love is Dead will probably last a little while.

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