A horror film in album form
Chvrches, the Scottish electronic-pop group, recently released Screen Violence, an album laced with nightmarish lyrics juxtaposed with optimistic music. For this record, the trio challenged themselves to reflect their personal turmoil while maintaining their signature EDM sound, leading to a final product inspired by horror films and tragic plays. The album title, Screen Violence, hints at the horror movie theme. While this album was written from a dark place, the music will likely comfort listeners who can relate to the group’s struggles.
The second track, “He Said She Said,” is about losing oneself while trying to fit into society’s impossible, contradictory standards. Trying to make everyone happy is impossible when there are so many different perspectives on what is right and wrong. Lauren Mayberry says she felt as though she was acting in ways that did not represent who she was to fulfill the expectations of others. This song was an outlet for her frustration, which is palpable as the verses become increasingly tense, culminating in a release of emotions when the beat finally drops.
The third track, “California,” explores the struggles faced when moving to L.A. and fearing failure. When one puts their entire life into a career, failure feels like dying. What else is there? The lyrics are anxious, but the music is upbeat and hopeful, creating one of many juxtapositions that helps the group get their message across without sounding too morose.
“Violent Delights” is another particularly haunting track. The group employs eerie, machine-like sounds that the listener can’t escape, similar to being stuck in a bad dream. Fittingly, the lyrics tell the story of night terrors experienced by members of Chvrches while on tour. They explore the idea of one’s subconscious telling them that something is wrong. They succinctly capture this idea in the phrase “violent delights,” borrowed from a line in Romeo and Juliet. This song creatively explores the fears that loom in the back of one’s mind, whether one chooses to hold these thoughts or not.
Track nine, “Nightmares,” is a change of pace as it is the only song on the album addressing relationships. Chvrches sing about constantly feeling the pressure to write about love. There is repetition in writing about the same topic, and there are unfulfilling feelings that come along with it. Why are most popular songs about love when they don’t actually do anything to fix a broken relationship? Chvrches explores this idea with a heavy rock sound, which is heard nowhere else on this record.
“Better If You Don’t,” the last song on the album, is a tragic and relatable anthem about the passage of time and the struggle of wishing to be back in a time or place you know you can never be in again. The sound of an electric guitar creates a feeling of longing, and the heart-wrenching lyrics eloquently explore common feelings of lost time.
Chvrches’s Screen Violence is filled with chilling, dark themes, but it will nevertheless provide solace to many who are going through the hardships explored on this impressive new release.