AOTY 2018

The Bones of What You Believe

CHVRCHES - The Bones of What You Believe
Critic Score
Based on 33 reviews
2013 Ratings: #121 / 953
Year End Rank: #13
User Score
Based on 510 ratings
2013 Ratings: #66
September 24, 2013 / Release Date
LP / Format
Virgin / Goodbye / Glassnote / Label
Synthpop, Electropop / Genres
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chvrch.es / Website
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CRITIC REVIEWS

100
A.V. Club

Chvrches’ bread and butter remains highly melodic, synthesizer-based pop, but with just the right amount of darkness, thanks in part to Mayberry.

90
DIY

As twelve equally matched moments of varied tone but consistent brilliance, it's nothing short of exactly what was expected - the start of something even bigger.

90
Consequence of Sound

By corralling everything in vogue with today’s soundscape — ethereal atmospherics, pulsing synths, ’80s throwbacks — with infectious hooks and the emphatic vocals of Lauren Mayberry, CHVRCHES has created 12 pop songs that are as accessible as they are layered. 

90
Clash
Hype is often a media construct without substance, but ‘The Bones Of What You Believe’ is an exceptionally strong debut where every track is a potential single.
85
The 405

Many albums like this settle for being consistent, but there's an undeniably high level of quality on offer here. 

85
Pitchfork

The Scottish trio's debut LP, The Bones of What You Believe, is a seamless fusion of emotive theatrics, hook-loaded songwriting, and some of the more forward-thinking sonics in electronic music right now.

83
Pretty Much Amazing

CHVRCHES have constructed a debut record that will not lose its luster with each successive spin, and proven that they have the substance to remain aloft as their cosmic kin come crashing down to Earth.

80
The Line of Best Fit

Many of the tracks available here could be chart-bothering Top Ten flirters, and Chvrches gutsy, crucial sonic smoothie never ceases to be utterly charming.

80
Drowned in Sound

Despite all the shadows encroaching on the tracks, the album doesn’t have to be analysed and dissected to be enjoyed. There’s so much to love on its surface that the record could live in a collection and function solely as a catchy pop nugget for the rest of its existence.

80
Under The Radar

"Lies," slightly tweaked here, remains the band's best track, but this is still a very young act, and the previously unreleased inclusions do justice to their predecessors.

80
musicOMH

The Bones Of What You Believe is, on the surface at least, an album full of dynamic, dance fuelled synth-pop, and the hype is justified.

80
AllMusic

Even on the darkest moments, such as "Lies" or "Science/Visions," there's a disarming emotional directness to The Bones of What You Believe that makes it a unique, fully realized take on a style that seemed close to being played out.

80
NME

Chvrches have stuck to the bones of their beliefs, and you're going to want to suck the marrow right out of them.

80
Spin

It's hard to make pop like this; an album that's so sonically uplifting even when it's rooted in something much darker. Merging these seemingly opposing ideas so flawlessly is what makes TBOWYB such a compelling listen.

80
Tiny Mix Tapes

Chvrches achieve sincerity not by simply rising above detachment, but by struggling with it on very real terms. And in doing so, they offer a sobering acknowledgment of just how far we’ve drifted away from each other.

80
The Skinny

They're simply irresistible; Scotland's finest pop band.

80
Time Out London

The poppiness of ‘The Bones…’ will appeal to many, but Chvrches’ more modern leanings keep them on the edgy side.

80
Rolling Stone
Even when Chvrches are just competently mopey, their neon-Eighties visions are far from retro pose-striking.
80
FasterLouder
Managing to exhibit emotional torment within ready-to-dance anthems is a tense balancing act, but Chvrches’ pain is coated in a glossy, candy armour.
80
God Is in the TV

It hangs together well as an album and whilst they’ve been hugely popular with taste-makers over the last few months, I would like to think that they could make the leap to mainstream success, because, quite frankly, they deserve to do so.

76
Sputnikmusic

The Bones of What You Believe hits so many high notes with its surprisingly simplistic delivery that it’s impossible not to recommend to even the most jaded of listeners. 

75
Entertainment Weekly
The trio earned early hype with stellar singles like ”Recover” and ”Lies,” and while their debut doesn’t always maintain those kinds of highs, it still provides plenty of charmingly straightforward indie-disco pleasures.
75
Northern Transmissions

With this new album, CHVRCHES certainly makes a significant statement regarding the future of their music. And it’s not just the hit singles that define the album, each track has a significant voice and role in the impact of the album

70
Paste

CHVRCHES’ main talent lies in making a record which makes the climb more worthwhile than the summit.

70
American Songwriter

The overall evidence suggests that Chvrches straddle the line between indie contemplation and pop exultation with flair.

70
Exclaim!

It's questionable whether Chvrches' sound can survive and stretch any further for future material, but for the time being, The Bones of What You Believe is an impressive slate of sonic pleasures from a young band still experimenting with a room full of synths.

67
Beats Per Minute

As all of their advance singles have proven, the cartoonish maximalism of Chvrches’ production is damn near irresistible in chunks. They write very strong songs, but aural satiation sinks in over Bones‘ 48 minute runtime. 

60
PopMatters

The Bones of What You Believe holds the stirring power to lift and crash, a marvel only to those who aspire for too little.

60
No Ripcord

The Bones of What You Believe is a huge, disappointing bummer.

60
The Guardian

Thankfully for the synthpop trio, their debut is immediate enough that it should hold the skittish interests of the online community.

50
The Fly

It’s hard to be really horrible, because there’s nothing actively bad about CHVRCHES. But it is hard to care too much about something this safe.

50
Slant Magazine
While the album has its fair share of sweet spots, the handful of capable melodies never quite balances out its bizarre impulses or the utter lack of thematic unity.
InModeration
77
This is one of the most intricately produced synth-pop I have ever heard. And even though the lyrics are slightly melodramatic and the male vocals just pale in comparison to the female vocals, the production is so good that I can actually ignore most of that. Chvrches really understands how to create a really catchy and great sounding pop song.

Lyrics & Themes: 7/10
Performance: 7/10
Arrangement: 7/10
Sonic Palette: 9/10
liammenzies
88
A near perfect pop record - it’s refreshing to have a promising act leave you feeling ten times more excited than you did before enterting their debut.
ryansliao
77
This album is refreshing and massive. Chvrches' brand of heavy hitting punch synths are remarkably effective. Lauren's vocals are great, as her more girlish tones ooze personality. The vibrant beats and instrumentals make for some insanely catchy songs. Unfortunately, Martin's vocals are quite subpar here. While he is able to hit notes and inject some personality on "Every Open Eye", he sounds like he's straining constantly here. But even despite this, it's still a fantastic album ... read more
joewindlebrox
91
The Bones of What You Believe is an awesome piece of glitzy synth-pop dance music. The hooks are so superbly arranged on almost every track. This is an album I could get behind going to a rave for.
82
Probably the only overrated album I love haha
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MISC LISTS

#10/Pitchfork Readers

Track List

  1. The Mother We Share
  2. We Sink
  3. Gun
  4. Tether
  5. Lies
  6. Under the Tide
  7. Recover
  8. Night Sky
  9. Science/Visions
  10. Lungs
  11. By The Throat
  12. You Caught The Light
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Added on: June 14, 2013