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CHVRCHES - "Leave a Trace" (video)

CHVRCHES' arrangements are a little more vivid, Lauren Mayberry's singing is more confident and emotive than ever before.

Adrien Begrand: First of all, the shimmering new single is exactly what anyone could have hoped for from the trio: very much in keeping with their simple yet subtly unique electropop sound, but with tiny hints of progression. The arrangements are a little more vivid, Lauren Mayberry's singing is more confident and emotive than ever before. As for the video, conceptually it's nothing particularly exciting, with Mayberry presented like she's at a lavish shoot for Vanity Fair. But she is absolutely gorgeous throughout -- though lying down in a shallow puddle of water couldn't have been comfortable -- so as far as I'm concerned, mission accomplished. Fans of the band will adore the clip. [9/10]

Colin McGuire: Chvrches are in a weird spot. They aren’t the Shiny New Thing at the cool kids table that they were a handful of years ago, but they also aren’t competing with Taylor Swift for the No. 1 slot on Billboard’s Hot 100. They are, in essence, in pop purgatory. “Leave a Trace” confirms as much. It’s got that intriguing moody texture the trio perfected with 2013’s The Bones of What You Believe, which, sadly, means Top 40 radio might be reluctant to touch it with any sense of regularity. On the other side of things, the track also has that, “you’ve done this before” feel that ultimately makes critics and fans alike question the band’s desire to evolve. Singer Lauren Mayberry is as sharp-tongued as ever when she closes out the chorus with lines like, “Take care to bury all that you can/Take care to leave a trace of a man.” Sure, it cuts, but it doesn’t sting nearly as much as the serial killer stare behind the “And when it all fucks up” refrain from the band’s most notable breakthrough, “The Mother We Share”. Chvrches are at their best when they’re aggressive, but because they decide to go for more atmosphere than feeling here, one has to wonder if Every Open Eye will suffer from that dreaded sophomore slump tag. Or worse, maybe it’s time to question if this Scottish trio will be confined by the boring boundaries of pop purgatory from here on out. [6/10]

Paul Duffus: There needs to be a new name for this genre and its endless slew of interchangeable electronic '''pop''' acts (three scare quotes denoting utter bafflement and anger), which seem to be so numerous that if they organised themselves, for sheer bodies they would give the People's Liberation Army a run for its money, although it is debatable how effective a fighting force composed entirely of men with beards and ironic wooly sweaters and women in vintage leg-warmers and knowing asymmetrical haircuts would be. "Synthpop" isn't really cutting it anymore. "Electro-guff" maybe, denoting both the means of torture and the hot air which constitutes most of the content? "Debbie Gibson's Revenge" maybe, denoting the horribly retro nature of the beast and the fact that most people who lived through the '80s thought that when that age's trend for flimsy, trite, clumsily processed chart-pop passed, it would disappear never to return again, and that we could just write it off as one of history's bad ideas, like asbestos or Agent Orange. "Anonymo-pap" maybe, although that's just insulting. "Leave a Trace" sounds like the 'poorly received' — aka career killing — follow-up single by the third placed runner-up songbird on season twenty-two of The X Factor. It is conventional. It is empty of anything even slightly subversive or nagging. It doesn't even have great hooks, the baseline requirement for entry into Debbie G's World of Pop & Dubious Nostalgia, a safe place where Alphaville and Electric Youth can walk hand in hand as Vince Clarke looks on nodding sagely, and no-one judges. There is much under the sun better than this. [3/10]

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