CHVRCHΞS – Clearest Blue
The success and ubiquity of some bands is a little perplexing, and Scottish synth pop specialists CHVRCHΞS are a great example. To date they’ve had one ‘hit’ (The Mother We Share, no.38) and yet have scored two top 10 albums, secured an honourable fifth-place finish in the BBC Sound of 2013 poll, and have arguably become a bit of a household name.
Sometimes an album – and, indeed, an act – is greater than the sum of its singles (the second iteration of the Sugababes know exactly what I mean), and that appears to be how CHVRCHΞS have fared so far. That said, a great big stonking hit is welcome every now and again if they aren’t to see diminishing returns from a stagnating fanbase.
Their second album, Every Open Eye, is testament to their perhaps subconscious need to score a smash, with bigger choruses and more festival-friendly hooks than before. Thus far the big hit eludes them, and the set’s first two singles peaked well outside the UK top 100 – but this, their most recent single, might yet stand a chance if the momentum it’s cultivating online can be maintained.
According to research, smell is the most evocative of our senses and the one most closely linked to happiness, but for me it’s unquestionably sound. Specifically, music. I’m sure I’m not alone in being transported within the opening bars of a select handful of songs. Whenever Bloc Party’s Helicopter comes on I am back in the Cardiff Uni student union eating a barbecue chicken melt with my coursemates. I can’t remember the moment when I gleefully pointed my car down the road with the sun-dappled trees without hearing Chicane’s Poppiholla. You get the picture.
What’s rather more unusual is for a new song to spark your imagination and make you think of an event that hasn’t even happened. Enter Clearest Blue.
The first time I heard this I was sitting at my desk, in an unremarkable office on an unremarkable Wednesday in September. But as the drop finally arrived at 2:12 and the breakdown immediately after it, I was punching the lasers at a nightclub I’ve never been to; perhaps it’s the similarity to a certain Depeche Mode standard that’s causing some synapse to fire in the wrong direction, but the teleportation was vivid and instant.
The whole song hinges on that drop and the sense of release after such a prolonged build is euphoric; that’s a feeling that’s addictive, and I now want to create that moment with my fists in the sky. It’s perhaps unsurprised that I cannot stop listening to this song. You could say I Just Can’t Get Enough…
Who could have a hit with this today? Oh, take a guess…