CHVRCHES SEEM designed for the internet age, right down to their eminently Googleable name. There's no album yet—they're currently mixing one for a September release—but with a few (marvelous) singles posted on various blogs and tastemaking sites, the Scottish trio is already in the throes of skyrocketing success.
"We got a hint when Neon Gold put our [first] song online last May," says Iain Cook. "The response was quite overwhelming, and every time that we put another tune out it seems to take us by surprise again. I hope it's not something that we get used to. We're just trying to keep our heads in the music and in the live performance, and trying to focus on being a band and doing the things we need to do on a daily basis."
Cook did time in the bands Aereogramme and the Unwinding Hours prior to forming Chvrches in 2011 with fellow synth player Martin Doherty and vocalist Lauren Mayberry. It's Mayberry's voice that immediately grabs you—in the bangin' "Lies," which is what you always wished Sleigh Bells sounded like, and in the astonishing, succulent "Recover," whose blatant, wide-open hooks are like staring straight into a synthesized, digital sun.
For Cook, Chvrches is an antidote to some of the limitations his past bands have posed. "Trying not to make too many stereotypes or judgments, but the alt-rock fans tend to be kind of guys stroking their beards with their girlfriends, you know?" he says, adding that they were taken aback to see fans dancing and singing along at their first US shows earlier this year. "It's quite difficult to channel Prince and Michael Jackson and Madonna and stuff into a guitar-rock band. There's a freedom in this band to explore these outlandish pop references that were kind of taboo in certain other contexts."
The immediacy of Chvrches' music is due to their mixing candy-sweet melodies with cutting, forceful synth tones. "It's something we're quite conscious of doing, because Lauren has, self-admittedly, quite a sweet tone to her voice. That gives us quite a lot of freedom to push the production and the timbres in a really harsh direction—just distorting things and putting them through compressors and trying to get things to be quite aggressive to counter the sweetness," Cook says. "I think there's a harmony there that comes together with those two elements."