Just as Chvrches finished an extensive tour at the end of 2019, following the release of third album Love is Dead, the Scottish trio were ready to start making new music together then found themselves on opposite ends of the Atlantic once COVID hit. Still intent on recording, singer and songwriter Lauren Mayberry, who was then planted in Los Angeles, along with Iain Cook back home in Glasgow, began working remotely—via video calls and shared audio files—recording “He Said She Said,” the band’s first new single in three years.
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Though dispatched on different ends of the world, “He Said She Said” found Chvrches returning to their root in a sense, having written and self-produced their first two albums The Bones of What You Believe in 2013 and Every Open Eye (2015). “He Said She Said,” off the band’s upcoming fourth album tentatively titled CVH4, is a result of Mayberry’s reflections over the past year, and a deeper examination of being women in music.
“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,” shares Mayberry. “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.”
In conceiving “He Said She Said” Mayberry moved through twisting thoughts of “be successful but only in the way we want you to be,” she says. “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.”
Roving through Chvrches’ immersive electro-pop renderings, Mayberry sings You need to be fed / But keep an eye on your waistline… Look good but don’t be obsessed, and prods some of the voices that can make a women questions her part in it all with a constant refrain of Feel like I’m losing my mind
“‘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,” says Mayberry. “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.”
Mayberry adds, “Being a woman is fucking exhausting, and it felt better to scream it into a pop song than scream it into the void. After the past year, I think we can all relate to feeling like we’re losing our minds.”