With its debut album, The Bones of What You Believe, Glaswegian pop group Chvrches became a critical darling in 2013 on the merits of its sparkly, synth-driven sound. The band’s songs referenced acts like Prince and Depeche Mode with bright keys, sharp hooks and layers of electronic tracks. But its greatest strength is the penetrating voice of front woman Lauren Mayberry, who can sound at once sweet and defiant. On the trio’s new album, Every Open Eye (Sept. 25), they use her instrument to ascend to greater heights.
The band spent its entire advance on synths, and it shows. Opener “Never Ending Circles” attacks from the first note, juxtaposing a pummeling growl with Mayberry’s looped staccato vocals. On “Clearest Blue,” a shuffling beat detonates into a cathartic club jumper, while “Make Them Gold” glitters like an ’80s pop anthem.
Still, Chvrches isn’t afraid to rein it in for a quieter moment. The closer, “Afterglow,” makes good on the band’s name as that crystalline voice, buoyed by an organ, sounds like it’s filling the contours of a hollow cathedral. It’s a voice pure enough to make a believer of anyone.
This appears in the October 05, 2015 issue of TIME.