Posted by: Nick Walters | October 24, 2013

Chvrches / Factory Floor

chffTwo albums released at almost the same time with striking similarities: both draw on the synthpop of the 1980s, both feature female lead vocals, both have striking covers featuring geometric shapes against a single colour background. And both are brilliant. Chvrches take their cue from Depeche Mode and Yazoo, delivering an album packed with poppy tunes leavened with a generous helping of deliciously dolorous shoegazing. Factory Floor take things to the extreme with an album of what sounds eerily like early New Order b-sides or remixes of Everything’s Gone Green, rather ironic given the band’s name. Chvrches is the most initially appealing of the albums; The Mother We Share, Gun, Lies, Recover and Lungs share a similar staccato-pop template but are each made distinctive by Lauren Mayberry’s strident yet delicate vocals. On two songs, at the end of Sides 1 and 2 respectively (yes I still think in terms of vinyl), Martin Doherty takes over vocals and whilst initially seeming a mis-step these two rather shoegazey songs emerge as things of bruised beauty, especially the woozy, blissed out album closer You Caught The Light. Album highlights are Night Sky, with its Fall-esque sequencer bubble, and Tether, which starts slow and smoky but bursts into this amazing prog synth workout. Factory Floor’s eponymous debut takes more work, again ironically considering the title. It doesn’t really have highlights, it is a relentless hammering of glorious repetition. Singer Nik Colk sounds appropriately lost in the machine, her vocals treated and mangled and mashed by the relentless production line. It might put some off but those into more experimental music and the Ghost Box catalogue will find much to love here.

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