If there's a theme in Scottish synth pop group Chvrches' world as they release their third record, Love Is Dead, it's willful, determined openness, both ideologically and in terms of actual creative process. This time around, instead of Lauren Mayberry disappearing for days at a time, the trio stayed in the same room even while Lauren was writing lyrics. As a result, the album "feels a lot more coherent," she says. Lauren also consciously pulled from a different psychic well when writing those lyrics, one that's less introspective and more expansive and imagistic. "I tried to write less about romantic love specifically," she says. "And more about the overarching concept of love."
And, for the first time ever, Chvrches opened their proverbial doors to outside influence. The Eurythmics' Dave Stewart served as the band's de facto mentor, providing insight Lauren says "really pushed us to focus on the artistic integrity of the album and everything that surrounds it." Steve Mac co-produced the soaring ode to hope, "Miracle." And thanks to some extremely productive time spent in what Lauren calls his "Aladdin's Cave," Greg Kurstin (Adele, Sia) wound up co-producing eight of the record's twelve tracks. "We had similar musical tastes and we clicked in the writing process pretty quickly," Kurstin recalls. "I got to pull out all of the things I don't have a chance to normally use." The result is the purest ever distillation of Chvrches' signature pretty gloom. This conscious move towards openness in the creative process reflects a bigger, deeper existential theme as well.
Lead single "Get Out" is a sprawling crescendo of heartbroken joy while"Graffiti," with it's lilting syncopated backbeat follows suit. Then there's the slinky "Deliverance," which personifies that classic Chvrches blend of punk ethos with a pure pop sound. The band doesn't consider their music expressly political, per se, but the urgent, brightly haunted "Graves," feels abject and despairing yet joyful in a decidedly topical way. And on, "Miracle," Mayberry questions "I feel like but I'm falling but I'm trying to fly, where does all the good go?" The dreamy "Heaven/Hell," gets at an issue Chvrches have been dealing with since day one: what it's like to be a rock band with a female frontperson.
That's a lot of what Love Is Dead is about: growing up, "coming to terms with the fact that there are great things in the world and there are awful things in the world and that you can't get one without the other," Lauren closes.