I first put on “Gun,” a single from the band Chvrches’ new LP “The Bones of What You Believe,” over breakfast on a bright August morning some weeks ago. This was the first time I’d heard the oft-hyped electro-pop outfit of bright-eyed Glaswegians. They had released their debut EP, “Recover,” to modest fanfare back in March after a string of appearances at Austin’s South by Southwest music and arts festival. Although I was there, Vampire Weekend and the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s had kept me from catching a performance. 

But after listening to “Gun” while munching my Wheaties, I was furious at myself: I had chosen to see established stalwarts instead of taking a chance on an up-and-comer. Now, Chvrches are making good on the initial promise of that EP—and it sounds fantastic.

Not that Chvrches are the making of a generation-defining band. No, their rise to fame is as curious as it is unlikely. How many bands toting synthesizers has this post-LCD Soundsystem decade spawned—and how many more of them are actually any good? Contemporary pop music is drenched in sounds leftover from ’80s pioneers like Eurythmics; Stereogum recently posted an article heralding the decline of guitar-based rock (citing Chrvches, no less, and of course Thom Yorke’s gloomy statement in 1993, “pop is dead”). 

I knew something was amiss when my father walked into the room and exclaimed that this music was much too “poppy” for a Radiohead snob like me. How did a law-school-grad-cum-music-journalist (Lauren Mayberry), a touring member of the Twilight Sad (Martin Doherty), and a serial underground underdog (Iain Cook) come together to form a pop outfit that—through a genre of music that’s been hashed and rehashed for decades—won the cold hearts and steely minds of Pitchfork staffers?

Stacking the odds against Chvrches even further is the fact that it’s nigh impossible to describe them without a comparison to more established acts. They owe the most to M83, the French dream poppers who have practically trademarked the expressive wails that also appear on “The Mother We Share,” the opening track to “The Bones of What You Believe.” 

Next on the list is Purity Ring, another unlikely star of the synth-pop world, but whose hip-hop style beats made them a standout in 2012. Also the tUnE-yArDs, who popularized the exploitation of earbud technology—shuffling the sound from one ear to the other—to send a shiver down the listener’s spine. Such influences inflect much of Chvrches’ music.

However, “The Bones of What We Believe” rarely sounds derivative. Part of what’s so refreshing about Chvrches is Mayberry’s voice and the tone of the band’s music: it’s relentlessly ebullient. Whereas on M83’s albums Anthony Gonzalez sings as though he bears the fate of the universe, Mayberry intones with simplicity. On “The Mother We Share,” she works her way through the easy melodies of her lyrics with a dulcet grace, as if she walks in slow-motion through the exploding sounds of the synths around her. Her elegance belies a quiet melancholy to the lyrics. When she sings “Never took your side, never cursed your name,” it’s half in celebration and half in desperation.

“Gun” takes a similar approach. On the strength of a simple hook, Mayberry spins a tale of a crumbling relationship while sounding like she’s on the top of the world. The soaring chorus of “There is no other way/ Never run far/ Take a good swing at me/ And everything is even” hints at the mutual destruction of love once shared, but when she utters, “I will be a gun and it’s you I’ll come for,” the listener can’t be sure if it’s a threat meant to menace or something more plaintive.

Coupled with the take-it-or-leave-it drama of “Tether,” these songs make up the singles released so far. Many bands have lived by the strength of their first singles and died by the banality of everything else stuffed in the album. Hype often kills a band that doesn’t live up to the promise of its best songs. (Remember Black Kids? Exactly.) “While The Bones of What We Believe,” at forty-eight minutes, is dangerously long, Chvrches proves that it has more than a few ideas for how to structure a pop song. The album is surprisingly diverse, both intimate and expansive, effusive and coy. To mix metaphors, Chvrches is treading familiar waters but bring us down unexpected paths. Its music incites a longing for childhood, a yearning for love, and—most importantly—a feeling that you don’t want this moment, whatever moment it is, to end. This is pop music, done better than anyone has done it for a long time.