Review: CHVRCHES slay with album and Robert Smith appearance

“Screen Violence,” by CHVRCHES (EMI/Glassnote Records)

The fourth studio album from Scottish synth-pop group CHVRCHES was already sounding great before they did something to push it into the realm of the spectacular.

They reached out to The Cure frontman Robert Smith, whose dark sound has been a touchstone to the younger band. That masterstroke produced “How Not to Drown,” bridging a generational talent gap and anointing CHVRCHES as worthy successors.

“I don’t want the crown/You can take it now,” Smith sings.

“How Not to Drown” is just one of the highlights of the 10-track “Screen Violence,” which examines anxiety, missed connections and misogyny, in real life and on screens. Members Lauren Mayberry, Martin Doherty and Iain Cook have a smoother, fuller and more assured sound.

The album kicks off with the terrific “Asking for a Friend” with lyrics that look back fondly at a past broken love. The super “He Said She Said” is a less fond look at a controlling partner, and the anthemic “Good Girls” destroys unrealistic ideals and isn’t polite: “I cut my teeth on weaker men/I won’t apologize again,” Mayberry sings.

You’ll find yourself returning again and again to the lush and wistful “Lullabies” and the driving, electric “Final Girl,” a song that plays around with cinematic clichés and has a vibe reminiscent of The Smiths. And, of course, the blissfully perfect “How Not to Drown.” It takes the crown.

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Mark Kennedy is at http://twitter.com/KennedyTwits

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