Be my Valentine, Chvrches
With Valentine's Day just around the corner, I thought it would be the perfect time to send a shout-out to my one true love.
No, not my wife. That would be stupid!
I'm talking about Chvrches.
In case you haven't received the memo, Chvrches are The Greatest Band Of All Time.
The Scottish trio released their first album, The Bones Of What You Believe, in September 2013.
None of my so-called friends bothered to tell me that The Greatest Band Of All Time had suddenly sprung into existence, so I only just discovered them last week.
I then spent the entire weekend -quite literally - listening to The Bones Of What You Believe non-stop.
Now here's the thing about Chvrches that has made them so instantly precious to me: They make me feel 15 again.
Chvrches sound as if they've travelled here in a time machine from 1982.
That's not to say they're retro -there's nothing campy, nostalgic, derivative or cartoonish about them.
They simply sound as if they're an amazing band from that era that has mysteriously materialised in the present.
The effect of this musical time-slip is that they've tricked my brain into thinking that I'm still the innocent kid I once was, that I'm still skinny, and that I'm still relatively cool.
I feel YOUNG again. It makes me want to cry, and in fact I have done so. Don't judge.
Their singles so far have been The Mother We Share, Lies, Recover and Gun.
The lyrics - "Icon of symmetry / Swallowing sides / Fall down in front of me / Follow my eyes" - are personal and strange, typically shaded over with a sort of pitilessness.
The music supporting the vocals is lushly cinematic synth, but still shaped into units one would recognise as actual songs as opposed to nebulous soundscapes.
There's a sort of dystopian sci-fi vibe to the videos that evokes the early 80s.
Oppressive megalopolises inhabited by guys in trench coats. Techno-magic and lasers.
All of this is very irresistible to me, a guy who wrote academic papers on Blade Runner in university.
At the centre of it all is lead singer Lauren Mayberry, the most charismatic frontwoman since Debbie Harry from American rock band Blondie.
Unlike many of her contemporaries, Mayberry seems to have absolutely no interest in divahood or fabulosity.
For one thing, she doesn't stand alone - her bandmates Iain Cook and Martin Doherty are as intrinsic to the Chvrches sound as she is.
For another thing, her style - both vocally and sartorially - is modest.
She doesn't bellow like a bull; she tweets like a songbird. She doesn't look like a stripper; she looks like an elf who works at a record shop.
They still had record shops in 1982.
I want to thank Chvrches for taking me back there.