CHVRCHES use the powerful punch of their unique brand of electro-pop to address men’s attitudes towards women in hard-hitting new single ‘He Said She Said’.
“Being a woman is fucking exhausting and it felt better to scream it into a pop song than scream it into the void”, says CHVRCHES frontwoman Lauren Mayberry of new single ‘He Said She Said’ and I couldn’t agree more. I can also guarantee that screaming along to this pounding synth-fest will provide an emotional release. Just ask my neighbours. This is a rollercoaster of a record; using the exhilarating formula this band consistently nails to build tension before dropping us into an incredible hook.
“Like everyone, I’ve had a lot of time to think and reflect over the past year; to examine experiences I had previously glossed over or deeply buried. I feel like I have spent a lot of my life (personally and professionally) performing the uncomfortable balancing act that is expected of women and it gets more confusing and exhausting the older I get,” explains Mayberry of ‘He Said She Said’.
“Be successful but only in the way we want you to be. Speak up for yourself but not so loudly that you steal men’s thunder. Be attractive but only for the benefit of men, and certainly don’t be vain. Strive to be The Hot Sad Girl but don’t actually be sad in a way that’s inconvenient for anyone. Be smart but not smart enough to ask for more than what you’re being given.”
Mayberry continues: “‘He Said She Said’ is my way of reckoning with things I’ve accepted that I know I shouldn’t have. Things I pretended weren’t damaging to me. It was the first song we wrote when we started back up, and the opening line (“He said, You bore me to death”) was the first lyric that came out. All the verse lines are tongue-in-cheek or paraphrased versions of things that have actually been said to me by men in my life.”
It has been a while since we have had the opportunity for some CHVRCHES catharsis. The band returned home at the end of 2019 with a long tour under their belts and a plan to make new music. Like everyone else, their plan got hit by the pandemic. Not only did this mean they were self-isolating, but Mayberry and Martin Doherty were also in Los Angeles while Iain Cook was in Glasgow. Not an ideal situation for collaboration but, true to their history of self-producing their work, they worked around it, creating new CHVRCHES material through video calls and audio sharing programmes.
“After the past year, I think we can all relate to feeling like we’re losing our minds”, says Mayberry. This idea of becoming unhinged is also portrayed in the video for ‘He Said She Said’, which was directed by Scott Kiernan (watch it below). In one repeated nightmarish scene, we see Mayberry confronted with a revolving glass door in the glow of red light and this feeling of repetition and being stuck replays throughout.
Of the video, Kiernan says: “The revolving door is metaphorical to the circular nature of a manipulative power dynamic, and the looping thoughts that go along with feeling trapped in it. But this door also represents a film developing tank here: it creates “a picture” through agitation. That agitation can be malevolent, by some controlling, dominating force as in an abusive relationship, or it can be that of a protest – a positive force to reclaim one’s agency.”
Using music to make a statement is nothing new. When it sounds this good, you can only hope that more people will prick up their ears. ‘He Said She Said’ marks the return of CHVRCHES and proves they still have plenty to say.