School of Seven Bells / Chvrches @ Stereo, 22 July
One song, one official gig – it’s been an economical route to the top of the hype pile for Churches. Lies proves to be just the tip of an already impressively-proportioned electro-pop iceberg, as waves of ready-formed earworms affirm the trio’s mettle – some audacious, shiny alt-hits-in-waiting, others more low-key and textural. A chock-full Stereo laps up the lot, and if we’re not mistaken, empties out a little when they finish.
School of Seven Bells’ own impressive ascent took a slight knock ahead of third album Ghostory, with Claudia Deheza’s departure thinning the heavenly vocal pool that had been a big part of their appeal. But the subsequent album’s resilient, spectral beauty proved that, on record at any rate, Benjamin Curtis and remaining Deheza twin Alejandra are undiminished by the severance.
Live, their recovery is initially less clear-cut, but vital signs are strong: while tonight’s subtle performance never quite envelopes the room like it seems it should, it’s nothing a bit of extra volume wouldn’t fix - and certainly, the crowd seem unfazed, judging from the noisy encore-clamouring. A couple of extra musicians fill out stage and sound as the duo whip up woozy melodies that have eyes closing in veneration, with Windstorm still a lofty peak; it may no longer showcase the sisters’ interlinking harmonies as it once did, but it remains a joyous highpoint.