Review: CHVRCHES at Union Transfer

September 23, 2013 -

Hill Coulson

Glaswegian electro-pop trio CHVRCHES makes music that has something for everybody. Whether you’re musically inclined toward dance-y synthpop beats, magnetic female vocals, or catchy and sincere lyrics, their sound is highly accessible and easy to latch onto. In a time when electronic music dominates the airwaves, CHVRCHES is a new brand of superstar that merges the sounds and styles of proto-EDM pioneers like The Knife with the pop sentiments of artists like Passion Pit. The result is a radio friendly act, embraced by the indie crowd and mainstream alike, that invests just as much energy into songwriting as it does making you dance.

After the release of their Recover EP last March, a few key performances, and blogger cosigns, the group has been pegged by the powers that be as the next big act, whether they like it or not. I got to catch CHVRCHES at Union Transfer in Philadelphia earlier last week and see what all the buzz was about.

As soon as they hit the stage, the overheard lights bathed the stage in bright colors, perfectly matching the band’s aesthetic: flashy electropop jams with an arena-sized sound that’s a winning combo in today’s musical climate. The show was attended by a slightly older, slightly more hipster crowd which was surprising to me given CHVRCHES’ pop star appeal.


For the most part, there wasn’t much dancing (like I said, hipsters), but then I realized that I go to way too many shows where thrashing around on the dancefloor is practically a requirement and sometimes you just have to stand there and appreciate the music for what it is. “Tether” was one of those songs that demanded the attention of the crowd with its guitar-driven build up and beautifully resigned lyrics: “Stay where you are / Ever, after / Chasing things that we should run from / I’m feeling capable of seeing the end / I’m feeling capable of saying it’s over.” On the other hand, songs like “The Mother We Share” and “Gun,” two of the group’s biggest singles, seemed to get more of the crowd moving with their 80s-inspired synth grooves.


This is the type of band that you’ll know if you like or not right away, and it’s pretty damn hard not to like. CHVRCHES are set to release their debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, on Glassnote Records in the US and Virgin in the UK on September 24th. Will the group rise to the occasion and overcome the hype machine? You can stream the record in its entirety exclusively on NPR and decide for yourself.


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