The Scottish indie pop band Chvrches released their second album, Every Open Eye, at the end of September.
It's up for debate whether or not it's better than their excellent debut, but there's little doubt that "Clearest Blue" is now their best song.
Sometimes an artist's best song is an outlier in their catalog, but "Clearest Blue" is the opposite – it's the perfect summation of everything that makes Chvrches good and unique. The center of the song is Lauren Mayberry's voice, which projects an assertive confidence while also allowing herself to seem transparently vulnerable. This is powerful because most of her lyrics come across like one half of a heated conversation, so she always comes across like a person who is very emotionally invested in a relationship or friendship, but isn't willing to give up too much of herself and is able to see things very clearly. I love the certainty in her voice, and the way the clean, bright tone of it cuts through the metallic timbre of the sort of keyboard and drum machine settings the band favors.
Chvrches' style is less about the contrast of Mayberry's voice and the rest of the music, and more about how similar they are. The music never undermines her, and the overall sound is very unified in its forthrightness. Mayberry's shifts in mood and sentiment are directly mirrored by the contours of the track – listen to how the nagging doubt at the start of "Clearest Blue" gradually transforms into ecstatic physicality as her voice becomes more emphatic, culminating in this joyful and cathartic instrumental break in the final third of the track.
That break is one of the most incredible things I've heard in music this year; it's the kind of sound that gives you a jolt and makes life feel exciting and full of possibility. I love that this feeling comes in a song that's mostly about Mayberry trying to figure out where she stands with someone in the middle of some crisis. There's a lot of ways you can respond to a crisis, but this is definitely the most optimistic and thrilling.