Three strident synth-pop bangers open the second Chvrches album and lay bare the Scottish trio’s intent: here they are doubling down on the formula that got them where they are today. It’s an assured follow-up to their US-conquering debut, The Bones of What You Believe, picking out its predecessor’s stadium-pop moments and turning up the intensity without ever overselling its charm. There’s an appealing combination of steely survival and breathless optimism throughout – Make Them Gold and Clearest Blue look towards a better future, with the latter updating Depeche Mode’s Just Can’t Get Enough for the BBC Radio 1 A-list. The tracklisting for the second half might suggest that they’ve taken a turn for the goth – Playing Dead, Bury It, Down Side of Me – but many of those songs provide a welcome pause for thought, featuring more subtleties than the obvious hits. It ends with Afterglow: the hangover after the party, and it’s Chvrches at their prettiest.
Rebecca Nicholson is a columnist for the Observer and the Guardian