THIS IS DEFINITELY a no-duh, but if Chvrches frontwoman Lauren Mayberry invites you to a party she's throwing, you should drop everything—previous engagements be damned—because it'll probably have a Buffy the Vampire Slayer theme.
"Myself and Iain [Cook] are big Buffy dorks," Mayberry says on the phone from New York, one of the first stops on the band's North American tour. "For a long time I wanted to have a Bronze scene house party, but I feel like maybe the moment's gone and people won't get it now."
TV shows aside, the honey-voiced Scottish singer has great taste on all fronts—especially in her work on Chvrches, Mayberry's team-up with multi-instrumentalists Cook and Martin Doherty. The Glasgow trio makes melancholy-tinged postcards to electronic and dream-pop's past, welcoming comparisons to Depeche Mode, New Order, and the fellow Scots of Cocteau Twins. It's good company to be in, but more than just a look in the rearview, Chvrches is the stuff of now—'80s-esque synth-pop done up with millennial style. Their music is cinematic, slick, and much smarter than its deceptively catchy outer shell suggests.
The band's second album, Every Open Eye, came out in September, and it's an even better creation than The Bones of What You Believe, their 2013 debut that materialized out of nowhere and lit up the globe. "When we started on what eventually became the first album, we weren't a full-time band. We hadn't really done any live shows. We all had other jobs. It was more of a fact-finding mission," Mayberry says of Bones.
"When I listen to [Every Open Eye], it feels a lot more sure of itself," she continues. "I think it all hangs together as a body of work a bit better. The first album, I feel, was more of a collection of songs up to the point we were at then. This time we don't have other jobs, this is our job now."
Good riddance to Mayberry's former job—time spent as a journalist with a law degree (so smart!)—because her true talent lies in penning fantastic, catchy pop songs about empowerment, loss, and triumphing over dark. Her voice rings out over hook-laden crescendos, like in "Keep You on My Side" or in the fresh-faced pep talk of "Make Them Gold," one of the new album's standouts. "We are made of our longest days/We are falling but not alone/We will take the best parts of ourselves/And make them gold," Mayberry sings over Doherty and Cook's driving synths. It's pump-up music, perfect for a training montage.
"I think when we were doing the mix for 'Make Them Gold,' we kept talking about how you could imagine it being a soundtrack to an '80s kids' movie where the kids are cycling up a hill at the beginning of an adventure," Mayberry says. I ask which '80s movie their band would have soundtracked.
"The Goonies. The Goonies is '80s, right?" Fair question—she wasn't even born when Mikey was giving inspiring speeches. But right now it's Chvrches' time. For all her music's moody new-wave underpinnings, Mayberry will never be mistaken for anything but a woman of the present—confident, optimistic, and unafraid to publicly speak out against misogyny, a trait that's garnered quite a bit of recent attention in the press. But she's weary of dwelling on internet trolls.
"We don't want to get sucked into talking about negativity all the time," Mayberry says. "There are so many great things that have come out of the internet for our band. We're trying to focus on sending something positive out into the universe, as well as shining a light on the negative." Her message of light couldn't be more indicative of Chvrches' aural transmissions.